Art Works of the Flesh are Manifest

Consider this facebook entry by my friend Pia Shandel on facebook:

Okay, why is it scandalous to see a penis, when there are endless photos online of women’s sexual parts? Is it not true that most women love a man’s penis when it is erect? Why is it the last taboo? Does it really represent rape to women? I prefer to think that it represents man at his finest, the way we love him. How did we get so weird about nudity? Why is an erect penis, which every woman who has loved a man adores, a shocking taboo? Time for real equality ladies. I am sure Justin has a nice penis, and I am happy for him. Obviously if he doesn’t want anyone to see it, he wouldn’t be taking pictures of it. I am sick of looking at Kim Kardashian’s ass, which doesn’t do a thing for me. I would prefer to view the delightful penises of my favourite male stars, wouldn’t you, ladies?

And this one:

Along with fisting and caning and urolagnia, the British Board of Film Classification has banned depictions of female orgasm that involve female ejaculation. Excuse me? Theory: men are terrified by undeniable evidence that women experience sex, or at least the orgasmic part, much as men do. Whoa! Clearly the porn industry and its regulators, find women achieving real sexual satisfaction to be a threat to their universe. Women are meat bodies to be used in the creation of the homoerotic ‘cum shot’ that apparently thrills the boys to no end in their silly world of porn.

I think it takes some guts to write this stuff on facebook. But most of us don’t read anything on facebook we just look at the pictures and if they remotely interest us and we have enough energy left in our fingertips we just might click a like.

My Rosemary and I have been reading a daily delivered NY Times for at least 18 years. I can state that thanks to the weekly Friday Weekend Arts which is about art (excluding theatre, film and dance which appear in other sections) plus the countless articles in the NY Times daily paper, Sunday paper and the many magazines and the weekly Book Review, I have gained a sort of arts education. Of late the NY Times Friday Weekend Arts has been introducing me to artists I have never hears of. Consider the American George Bellows, 1882–1925 whom I discovered in one of the clips here involving a painting of his in an auction.

The Friday Weekend Arts transports me from this beautiful backwater that is Vancouver to a world that is out there to be seen, savoured, enjoyed, appreciated and wowed. It is a world where newspapers routinely publish paintings and photographs of nude human beings and they are not considered pornography or in bad taste.

In Vancouver the closest might be an ad for the lingerie store on South Granville. It’s that or Group of Seven or Emily Carr’s monkey.

I remember about 18 years ago when I used to exhibit in as many group erotic or nude shows that the long gone Exposure Gallery (on Beatty Street) used to present at least every two months. My wife warned me that I was placing myself in a corner and that people would not hire me for magazines or corporate work as they would be reluctant to offend the politically correct within their organizations. I would think that my wife was partially right and I must have lost business.

There was one local photographer, Daniel Collins who was a very good photographer. The last time I communicated with him he was in a spiritual retreat in a Tibetan monastery. He was telling me his last price for a photographic soft box that he was selling through Beau Photo. I bought it.

In this Exposure Gallery show Collins exhibited bit, erect and shiny penises. I was shocked! I wonder if Pia Shandel would have been, too.

In the year 2000 I had a show in which I collaborated with Argentine painter Juan Manuel Sánchez. One of his pieces which we submitted (by request of the Vancouver Sun which was featuring a preview article) had a line drawing in which a little straight line marked that area of that which a woman has that we men don’t have. The editor at the Sun told us he could not run the picture and asked for another one.

Some years before I had previewed a show of the photographs of Manuel Álvarez Bravo at the Presentation House for the Georgia Straight by request of the then editor Charles Campbell. In my essay (which did run) I wrote about my favourite Bravo picture La Buena fama durmiendo (The Good Reputation Sleeping). The Georgia Straight refused to run the picture.

People tell me that things will change. The problem is that people have been telling me that since I arrived here in 1975. They used to cite our Scottish (puritanical) heritage. The Scots are now an evident minority but…

La Buena fama durmiendo 1939 -Manuel Álvarez Bravo
Offending bits cropped out — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Link to: Artworks Of The Flesh Are Manifest

Originally published at

Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:

Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at: