Artless: Stereotypes are bad. Got that. It's wrong to say anything is "typical Dallas." We know. This is a big, cosmopolitan (snort) American city in the 21st century. So, far be it from Buzz—well, not that far, just a few more words—to smirk at a situation and dismiss it with "well, that's Dallas."

But get this: In Dallas, even artists at hip collectives are willing to censor a fellow painter's work because it's not "family friendly." Can't let the kiddies see any pix of nekkid people, or at least not nude, middle-aged women with marks from cancer surgery. James Dobson would be so proud.

What local artist Rhon Drinkwater calls "an appalling incident of censorship" happened at the spring open studios show last week at the Continental Gin Building on Elm Street. More than 30 artists rent studio space at the old converted warehouse, and each was supposed to pick a piece of art for display in the building's second-floor gallery. Drinkwater picked a portrait of a nude woman with a lumpectomy scar on her left breast. We don't have room to show it to you here, but you can see it at It's about as prurient as a trip to the carwash. (No offense intended to you carwash fetishists out there.)

Oddly, a pastel drawing of a nude hanging next to Drinkwater's work was left in place. "I didn't see a difference [except] they didn't have cancer. They weren't done by a queer person," she says.

Drinkwater's work was moved to the third floor, next to the 600-square-foot studio she and her wife have been leasing for about three months. The decision to pull her art from the gallery was made after a group of her fellow artists discussed it informally before the show. Apparently, she says, one of the residents has 2-year-old child and didn't think the art was G-rated enough.

"What would a 2-year-old make of breasts?" Drinkwater wonders.

Lunch, maybe.

Drinkwater says she sent an e-mail around to her fellow artists, and that has stirred up a minor storm among tenants at the building, which Drinkwater describes as the city's oldest art community. In the meantime, she's a bit regretful about signing her lease and waiting to get word on what the building's morals policy is exactly. "You know, we say Dallas is a province," she says, meaning "provincial."

Maybe Drinkwater should rethink her work if she wants to stay here. Barns in fields of bluebonnets are always a safe choice. And clowns, of course. (No offense intended to you clown fetishists out there.)

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams

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