Two Teen Tales

Two stories this week have photos to go with them. First, the dangerous desperado and the dual damsels:

Wanted Poster

A teen boy and two girls stopped in at Tony’s Old Time Portrait Studio in Victoria, B.C., Canada, where clients can dress up in period costumes for photos. Tony’s staff spent 40 minutes dressing the kids up for their photos. They sat for the portraits, looked at them, and then “took off like a bat out of hell” without paying their C$84 (US$82) sitting fee, owner Tony Bohanan said. Bohanan didn’t get mad, he got even: he released the portraits and asked the public to help identify the thieves. Once the photographic evidence hit the media, the three teens turned themselves in to police; one of the girls also paid the fee, and apologized to Bohanan. “We saw our pictures plastered all over the place and it made me feel like a crook,” she told him. The boy’s father brought him in to apologize too. Bohanan, 79, said he’s waiting to hear from the third desperado. (Victoria Times Colonist) …Bohanan didn’t make her feel like a crook. Her actions did.

And here’s their portrait — you get the idea of why I titled the story “Wanted Poster”:

Three teens in western garb clearly show their faces
The kids weren’t identified by name, but they clearly like the idea of having somewhat-less-than-reputable images.

Next, everyone wants to be a critic — and yet miss the entire point of art:

Expose Yourself to Art

The Hampton Roads, Va., Virginian-Pilot newspaper held its 36th annual “Student Gallery”, an art contest for area students. The judges included the director of the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary, and a director from the Chrysler Museum of Art. But their winning choice was rejected by the newspaper as “inappropriate” — the 17-year-old girl who painted the portrait posed for it herself — without clothing. “There’s nothing showing!” complained a Chrysler Museum official, but the newspaper liaison sniffed the paper is “thinking about the audience, and all the kids and the younger siblings who will see these pieces.” The painting did not violate the rules of the contest. OK, so on to the second choice of the judges, a sculpture. It was rejected by the newspaper too, for the same reason. Two “judges” from the newspaper awarded the $1,000 first prize to a third student. Chrysler Museum officials were so bothered by the rejection that they raised $1,000 to give to the judges’ first choice, Nancy “Beth” Reid, a senior at Churchland High School in Portsmouth. Her painting is still hanging at the Chrysler. (Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot) …The ultimate victory: the Pilot had to report on its staff’s own stupidity.

Note that the contest had absolutely no prohibition from depicting nudes (a word I can use here, but not in the newsletter thanks to overzealous spam filters).

Before you scroll down: if you’re the type to scream and cry over a little bit of artistic cheekiness, don’t scroll down and look at it. Clear?

Really: clear? OK, here you go:

Beth Reid's painting.
Young master: Beth” Reid’s award-winning effort. Despite winning according to the rules, they denied her the prize. The judges cried foul. (Photo courtesy the Muscarelle Museum of Art)

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30 thoughts on “Two Teen Tales

  1. The Chrysler Museum official is correct, there’s nothing showing. I mean ok sure you can see part of her butt but good grief, it’s not much more skin then you’d see on a woman in a skimpy bikini. Her breast isn’t even showing. Sounds like the staff at the paper are nothing but prudes.

  2. You know, that painting is a quite a bit more provocative than your story led me to expect. An identifiable minor child stark raving naked? I’m not sure I’d be publishing it around town, either. Surely you’d concede that it’s a gray area.

    I wonder: If it had been a photograph, rather than a painting, would you still think the newspaper staff had made a “stupid” decision? How about if the 50-year-old lech next door were the photographer and you were her dad? I don’t know that I have a firm opinion on the subject. I’m just curious about where YOU’d draw the line.

    • And yet the paper probably would not have a problem with a photograph of any of the old masters work. I’m thinking of the Sistine Chapel with all of the “nudes” on the ceiling.

      In a church no less! 😉 -rc

  3. The kids look as dumb as their actions suggest.

    The art looks to be an excellent work of art well worth the $1,000 price paid for it.

  4. Re: Expose Yourself to Art

    Maybe Beth refused to cede them the right to sell her image in The Virginian-Pilot Photo Store.

    Or perhaps they only permit images of near-naked men.

    Unfortunately, the links you provided are no longer valid. -rc

  5. You really do have to wonder about the inside of the mind of people who act this way over what is obviously art. Good luck and thanks to the museum bosses.

  6. In the art contest story 1) If I remember right the newspaper referenced in the story is owned by the family of the late Jerry Falwell.

    2) It looks like something out of Hustler magazines ‘Beaver Hunt’ section. Maybe the problem is they need better judges.

    3) SEVENTEEN!!!? Congratulations on your entry into the world of kiddie porn Randy

    Perversion is in the mind of the beholder. Your reaction says a lot about you, and nothing about me. -rc

  7. good for the Chrysler Museum! thank god artistic talent did not go unrewarded. it’s a triumph of common sense over absurd stupidity!!!

  8. Kudos to the Chrysler Museum and to Beth! I don’t really know anything to speak of about art, but even I can tell Beth depicted the human body with obvious talent and skill. You can see the definition of the muscles in the legs and back of the “model” (yes, the artist). The detail in her left foot, for instance, is very nicely done. As for her being “identifiable”, we don’t know that the image of her face is accurate enough for that. People who object to this probably would object to Michaelangelo’s “David” as well – and because it is 2-dimensional, Beth’s painting shows considerably less.

  9. I do not believe in child porn under “any” circumstances, but I think the 17 yr old self portrait was done in good taste considering nudes weren’t forbidden. The press thinks real highly of a lot trasher painting than this so who are they to deny the girl her prize money. Evidently her parents approved of the painting!

    Finally! I’ve been waiting for someone to bring up that point. And that indeed is the point when no rules have been violated. -rc

  10. As a mother, I am the first to get on the warpath against the exploitation of women and children. I am a conservative mother of four, a Christian, and a republican. I am also an artist, and the photo of the three crooks was more disturbing to me than the 17 year olds self portrait. I’d be a lot angrier with my kids for ripping someone off than for expressing themselves artistically. There was nothing sexual in that painting, unless the beholder themself is a pervert.

  11. Here’s what the young artist herself had to say in the Pilot about whether her painting was perverted or pornographic –

    “Beth said she loves art history and appreciates the nudes she has seen in classical art. ‘It’s not perverted at all. Now, it’s almost like if you see a naked person it’s pornographic, and that’s not true.'”

  12. I think the piece is a fabulous work of art and study of the human body. I am so against kiddie porn and sexulizing kids that I still will not buy Calvin Klien because of his sexualizing of children for his advertising–but nudity does not equal sexual unless your mind is in the gutter–that painting is beautiful and I’m grateful to the museum for encouraging a young artist who is sure to go places with her work. Thanks for a good story that makes us think!

  13. I see here that most of these comments are in favour of showing this art, it is not a matter of what is in the mind but what is correct and what is not, we have some sick people out there and they don’t need encouraging, this is a young teenager for goodness sake.

    Whilst I feel that her painting is fantasitc, I gather that the papers aim was to protect siblings and other from seeing someone so young in nothing at all, I can only applaud their common sense.

    Just because a peice of art is fantastic does it mean that it is correct to show. We can say that art is art, but is that just an excuse to show porn.

    If in an art show someone paints a fantastic award winning peice of art of a nude man and woman having sex, do we show it???

    I would hate to go back to the Victorian days but from what I hear the American society has already almost reached rock bottom morally and should be doing something about fixing it.

    There are many beautiful paintings of nude women around but this is of a young teen.

    • I question your definition of “young.” 17 years old may be a “young” person, but, to my mind, not a “young” teen. It may be different in the Land of Oz, but this woman is less than a year away from her legal majority in the US. She has the ability to drive in the public roads (assuming that she has a license and use of a vehicle), obtain credit (probably unwisely) and get married with few, if any, restrictions in some localities. And, again, I point to artwork in some of the most famous churches in the world. Michelangelo’s “David” shows full nudity of a young person, as do Christmas cards showing Cherubim and Seraphim. Are those also pornographic?

      Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I would say that Beth’s self portrait is art.

      • 17 is still a minor.

        Actually, it depends on the state. The “age of consent” is not just 17 in many states, but it others it’s 16 — from Alabama to (yep) Washington. In Virginia (the state in question in this story), the age of consent is 18 …but with exceptions that allow sexual content as low as age 15. -rc

  14. About the art contest: I can see several sides to this, which is part of what makes it a great story.

    Now, the newspaper really should stick to the rules of the contest. The person who submitted the best work should get the prize (…and clearly this artist has more brains than all 3 of the kids in the 1st story…). The fact that the paper may be unwilling to print the entry is its problem, not the artist’s (although hopefully this is a useful lesson to her about dealing with problem customers).

    The paper should change the rules for next time, but not retroactively.

    At the same time, I understand the paper MAY have concern because, although I don’t consider it pornographic, SOME people might, and that “some people” may include a prosecutor. Her consent to the depiction would probably not matter if she’s a minor. The paper should have a loooong talk with the ACLU before printing it, and also talk to its circulation manager about how many dropped subscriptions they can afford.

    Hopefully, the paper could avoid punishment on 1st Amendment grounds, or perhaps the relevant community standards would give them a pass at trial (I don’t know). But in any event, few papers are in business to hire defense lawyers.

    I must congratulate you for resisting the temptation to observe that the paper’s owners were just thinking of the Bottom Line.

  15. Is it just me? — appears that the torso from waist up is distorted, not normal. What is the background? It looks like a cave writing in a primitive site. Perhaps there is more symbolism here than can be deciphered.

  16. The intent of the artist/model(s) should be considered. Those students at the photo shop could just as easily dressed up as upstanding citizens in period costume. That they didn’t speaks to their mindset (similar to the “Pimp & Ho” kids Hallowe’en costumes that made a splash a few years back).

    In contrast, Beth strove to capture the body in its native form, and also strove to keep its depiction rather chaste, all things considered.

    That this caused a stir is more a sign of the times than anything. (I had pictures posted to my website of our newborn-minutes old baby granddaughter that I took down for exactly that reason. No one in their right mind would have considered them porn, but “right minded” seems to have a different meaning nowadays…)

    The newspaper was perhaps being sensible on the one hand, but senseless on the other. They should have at least acknowledged the fact the museum thought she had done the best and awarded the prize, and kept up their end of the bargain.

    Incidentally, Rick Steves (of the PBS travel show) often faces this conundrum himself when filming on location, where much of the art is public art, and is often unabashed in its showing of the human form.

    You’re right: it is a sign of our prudish times. That’s why we need to rail against those who insist on injecting perversion into the human form. (The pimp/ho costumes you referred to are discussed here.) -rc

  17. I know everyone’s talking about the second story, but I’d like to disagree with the tagline of the first: The girl’s actions may have made her a crook, but it was Bonahan’s publication of the photos that made her feel like a crook.

    Of course, making her realise what she was was a good thing.

  18. The image of the three teens is more provocative than the art that was denied first place in the newspaper. Drinking, cash in garters, and fishnets compared to leg skin (visible in shorts) and back skin (visible in a bikini). I actually had to look a third time to realize you could see some of her rear.

    I can understand not wanting to show her art because of younger siblings (I wouldn’t want to see my sister naked either, if I had one), but she still should have won the cash prize.

    Also, to those that are saying “she’s a young teen” and that if she was an adult, then the artistic nudity would be “alright”- this girl is seventeen. In a year or less, she will be considered an “adult.” She’s a mature young woman that understands the naked body is not automatically pornographic, not some little kid.

  19. I agree with Alice in CA. The upper torso looks odd to me too. That being said, the rest looks well defined.

    Bravo to the photographer for showing the kids’ picture.

    Maybe they will think twice before running out on another commitment.

  20. There’s a poignant Gollum-like quality to the 17-year-old’s self portrait. Anatomically, it’s outstanding. Art in my book.

    The kids–well, they watch too much damn TV.

  21. 17-years-old with that kind of talent is extraordinary! She is amazing! Now let’s think… 17-year-old “tasteful” artist (much less “offensive” than some Great Masters) versus 21-year-old Yale student Aliza Shvartz’s true/fake “Abortion Art”… hmmm… this is tough… I’m thinking the 17-year-old has much more class AND talent AND taste… Good for her and I’m so very thankful that the museum had such great sense!!! Bravo for reverse ZT!!!

  22. In Victoria did you say? Did you notice that the two girls had US dollars tucked into their garters? Probably the Canadian loonies (one dollar coins) would have fallen out?

  23. Reminds me of an Art Show in Missouri my grandmother entered. The application said “no nudes.” Fine, grandmother usually did fruit and such. But there was a painting causing a stir – A painting of the crucifixion after the removal of Jesus’s clothing. When grandmother inquired about why that painting was allowed, she was told, “But Ma’am, that is a HOLY nude!” I guess its all in how you skew, umm, look at it.

  24. Thank you, Karen, that was the point I was just about to make. Has the newspaper now decided that the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel is pornographic and that Michelangelo was nothing more than a pervert?

  25. Well, accepted as the winner or not, she got great coverage for her artistic abilities and free advertisement like this is well worth the pinchmouth’s ‘rejection’. She has talent!

  26. I can see it being considered — very, very, technically, as a nude. No clothing is visible, nor is anything else.

    What I can’t see is the art. Composition is nonexistant, exposure a bit off, focus looks to be off. This ain’t the Sistine Chapel ceiling, it’s just a second rate snapshot.

    In the heyday of real film, this would have a Kodak Brownie moment.

    Chuckle about holy nudes. Read The Boomer Bible. Its explanation for the Renaissance is that painters found out how much fun it was to paint naked women. But until then all painting had been religious, and painting naked saints was apt to draw a quick visit from the Inquisition. So instead they began painting naked pagan godesses, which could not excite the authorities. And in the course of that, discovered a few other things that had been forgotten. Such as art, science, mathematics, medicine, sculpture, drama, comedy….

    The Reformation was what England had instead of a Renaissance. Because there it was too cold to take your clothes off, and looking at naked women wasn’t kinky enough.

    Exposure, and snapshot? This isn’t a photo, it’s a painting. -rc

  27. Dave: She submitted a painting, not a photo. You are viewing a snapshot of her painting, that’s why the exposure and focus looks off. I’m sure if you viewed the painting in person it would look “in focus”.

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