On July 20, I went to the 927 Art Show in Cambria. For the greater part, it offered what I expected and have enjoyed in the past: whimsy, novelty and an exhibition of the creativity and talent of local artists. And then I was exposed to the desiccated carcass of a dead cat and the title essentially was a three-fingered salute to PETA with a vulgar double entendre referring to the female genitalia.
A quote from Justice Robert H. Jackson comes to mind: “The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with, and even pay for, a good deal of rubbish.”
Similarly, I am reminded of a quote by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart on a case about obscenity in which he wrote, “I shall not attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be within that shorthand description (of hard-core pornography); and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it ”
This exhibit was intended to shock and offend. It did. This “thing” lacked serious value, be it artistic, political or otherwise. Questions abound. Does the 927 Art Show have any criteria for entry? Was the decision to award this thing Best in Show made by one person or several? It seems as though a pile of excrement has been served up and the judge(s) have said, “Yum.”
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Having set this precedent, what a Pandora’s box has been opened. Perhaps it’s just as well the event was poorly advertised.