Artist: Alexander Kanevsky/ Frame Shop and Eierweiss Gallery
Confronting Bodies: Complainant Jeffery Weisman, and the bureaucratic offices of Mayor John DeStefano and the New Haven Police.
Date of Action: August 2000
Specific Location: Frame Shop and Eierweiss Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
Description of Artwork: A four-foot square painting of stylized elderly nudes.
Description of Incident: New Haven citizen, Jeffery Weisman, called in a complaint to Mayor John DeStefano's office. He saw an "obscene" painting displayed in the window of a New Haven gallery that he felt should be removed. This complaint was passed from the mayor's office to the office of Police Chief Melvin H. Wearing. This was eventually passed through other hands, ending with two sergeants. The transfer of this complaint between so many hands apparently escalated the importance of the complaint. The sergeants then went to the gallery and asked if they would remove the painting from the window.
Results of Incident: The gallery owner, Judy Eierweiss, had already been thinking of changing the display and agreed to remove it from the window. Artist Alexander Kanevsky was alarmed by the police response and wanted to make the incident known to the media. Mayor DeStefano said he was neither aware of the complaint nor did he request police involvement. Apparently the incident resulted from misguided bureaucrats, and improper police decisions, rather from the Mayor himself. He explained that the city in no way intended to censor Kanevsky's work. He said he would offer to exhibit the painting in City Hall to demonstrate that the City is not in the business of censorship. Nevertheless, the incident disturbed art professionals in the region.
Source: New York Times, 8.22.00
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