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Spectacle: Dirty Little Secrets

Glenn Barr

"10 pm" by Glenn Barr

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There is a small room, closed off from wandering eyes, where I stood staring at a woman touching herself. The exhibit being featured at the Long Beach Museum of Art called Risqué [dirty little pictures] is meant to toy with the idea of what makes something dirty.

I had no idea what I was about to encounter as I perused the galleries that would precede the taboo filled room upstairs. First there was an exhibit illustrating the power that color has over human emotions and another exhibit referring to human’s interpretation of how animals think, feel, and react. Then I found myself in front of a dark red wall warning away the young, chaste, and easily offended.

The forewarning mentioned the immense skill that went into the pieces of art, and that way beyond evident. Each painting was delicately and intricately crafted to make something both dirty and beautiful. The blush inducing works draw in the viewer because of this attention to detail and through the detail they become all the more salacious.

A man in cargo shorts and short-sleeved shirt stood clinging to side of a woman, who I assumed to be his wife, hysterically laughing and making crude comments. No doubt, he had been dragged to the museum against his will to receive a dose of culture. Little did she know that would include a dim room filled with phalluses and other uncouth depictions.

As an art lover, I was conflicted by this couple, of whom I am sure there are many. I was at first offended, but then amused by my own offense. This man has been to numerous museums, no doubt, which he has sat on a bench designated for bored husbands in his position. This exhibit brought out a reaction within him, and because of him, within myself.

Jeff McMillan and Nathan Spoor brought in artists and told them to exemplify “risqué”. They chose not to gather works that they believed to apply to the word, but rather even gave a size limit to the artists to evoke an air of forbidden voyeurism. Judging by the reaction of others and myself, the show is a resounding success.

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