Public Art Policy Yellow Springs Council Meeting
On the whole I felt the viewpoints shared at the meeting were respectful, and I appreciated the comments by council members as well as everyone else who spoke up. Some good questions to ponder on both sides and I am pondering. Someone brought up the point that the village doesn't display the Ten Commandments even though some would like it too. We have Separation of Church and State and no government has the right to endorse and promote religious morality onto the community, anymore than they have a right to dictate what artists can and can't say with their work. Steve's painting is not representing the government but is a personal opinion and he violates no law in doing so, a government entity putting up the ten commandments would be considered a violation of the constitution.
One woman brought her personal experience of why Steve's painting (part of the Yellow Springs Arts Council Permanent Collection) isn't appropriate in the village building. I empathize, I too have been a victim of violence and trauma and understand all to well how images can trigger painful reminders. Whether we like it or not however is beside the point, are we supposed to ban/censor EVERY image that bothers us politically, aesthetically, personally, etc. What a pickle that would cause! There are some in the village that despise the sculpture "flock of hands" which is on public property, are we supposed to remove it?
Also the question of what sort of message does the artwork send to visitors to our village. I think the message would be obvious, we value free speech, creative diversity and tolerance.
Either the village allows a gallery that was gifted to the village by a previous village manager to continue or it doesn't. BUT it really can't have it both ways and value freedom of speech and then censor work based on the personal taste of a few. There are creative ways of dealing with it, without resorting to a blanket policy that hurts the core of everything this village values.