Erotic Art Show thrills the crowd and rewards those who come back for more
Viewing an erotic art exhibition, like many other human activities, becomes more fulfilling and meaningful with repeated intimate exposure.
Opening night of Paradise, the Associated Students’ Women’s Center’s 12th annual Erotic Art Show at the Crux Artist Collective, was, to all appearances, a raging success. On the sidewalk outside the entrance a throng of nattily attired young adults chatted and laughed. At the reception table just inside a young lady dressed in a tightly bodiced corset overflowing with nubile flesh cheerfully accepted the $5 entry donation and handed over a raffle ticket and a handmade anthology of erotically themed poetry emblazoned with the exhibition title.
Once the entrance was passed, the cozy new Park Avenue location was shoulder-to-shoulder with a crowd of politely jostling art lovers. On stage when I arrived was a jazz trio consisting of Christine LaPado on bass, Mike Newman on sax and percussionist Lansana Kouyate. Newman’s sax seemed to be moaning in either pre- or post-orgasmic bliss, supported and complemented by the throbbing pulse of LaPado’s bull fiddle and urged on by the subtle rhythms of Kouyate’s pulsations.
Following the path of least resistance across the gallery I found myself going up a short flight of steps and around a couple of corners to a small room containing some very interesting prints that were not identified by artist or title, featuring pistols, striped stockinged legs and appended text, and that I found out on a later visit were not actually part of the featured exhibit.
Flowing with the circulation of the crowd, I wound back around the corners and down the stairs just in time to catch a short set by singer/ songwriter Aubrey Debauchery, a diminutive, unpretentiously pretty young lady with a rich voice, unassuming stage presence and long dark bangs that tend to fall across her face in an aesthetically pleasing manner as she strums her guitar. In keeping with the theme of the evening, one of her lyrics referred to the activities of a “nasty boy.”
By that time the throng was getting very challenging to navigate within, and the art on the walls very difficult to assimilate or even see without the intrusion of another attendee’s shoulder, head or cleavage, so after another appreciative look around the room, I ducked out into the night and left the revelry.
On Sunday afternoon the gallery seemed much larger and more comfortable. On the dais that had been occupied by the musicians at the reception, the four expressionistic nude figure-and-flower paintings by Marie Hubbard drew one’s attention immediately by the force of their dynamic compositions and brilliant tropical coloration. Close-up examination revealed the pieces to be painted on satiny cloth and subtly contoured with flowing patterns of crimson thread stitching.
Facing the Hubbard painting from the opposite side of the steps, Gary Quiring’s ultra-focused photographs of nude female figures evoked fantasy scenarios involving lace, water droplets, shaven vulvas, riding crops, perfectly symmetrical nipples and unblemished young skin. Very nice and tastefully artistic in a ‘70s, high-tone, soft porn sort of way.
More thought-provoking and humorous was Cat Sommer’s photo titled “Me and My Boyfriend,” which depicts a young woman in a photorealistic mask and disproportionate mittens and stockings accompanied by the painted wooden figure of a mustached man, both figures set against a wall accented by a cantilevered blind hung over a bed much too small to accommodate the couple.
Another favorite was Amanda Flanders’ “Vagina With Wings,” a whimsical multimedia piece comprised of Plexiglas, wire, hand-modeled flesh-tone plastic and clear acrylic beads mounted on a painted background.
All in all, the second trip to the exhibit was much more satisfying than the first, so if you missed the opening-night festivities and frivolity, don’t worry, eroticism is better appreciated without a crowd between yourself and the object of your observations.