Cincinnati, Ohio: Prospect Street, Gloucester
"I thought they closed it down."
"They had to open it back up while the court decides."
I ran over to the museum to see in person the show that launched the early-1990s tempest about national funding of the arts. I discovered to my disappointment that I had already seen the show a couple of months earlier at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. I had assumed that this show which caused such contentiousness in Cincinnati couldn't be the one that showed without much fanfare in Chicago. But it was.
When I saw the show's photographs at the Cincinnati museum, I had all to myself a gymnasium-sized room full of Mapplethorpe's large portraits and prints of beautiful flowers. Snaking back and forth through the room was a long line of gray-haired ladies scowling and clutching purses, waiting to see the folders with the small "dirty pictures."
"Every time we make the national news, Cincinnati looks like a horse's behind," my cousin lamented. In the same year, they made national news when a little old lady who had freshened someone's expired parking meter got ticketed by a Cincinnati cop. Cinci is also where eleven fans were killed in a rush for seating at a 1979 Who concert, and in 2001, there were race riots downtown when a black man got shot by a white policeman.
Cincinnati, Ohio: Prospect Street, GloucesterI had visited Cincinnati's art museum once before. In 1990, I asked my cousin who I was visiting there what to do while I was in town. She smiled wryly, sucked on her cigarette, and said, "You could always go see the Mapplethorpe show."