A recent article in the L.A. Times was brought to my attention by my friend C:
Phantom Galleries is a for profit organizations that takes empty retail space and ‘borrows’ it to showcase art work. In lieu of having the space stand empty while awaiting new tenancy, the space is providing a platform to showcase artist and their work. This a a great program which helps preserve culture. According to the Phantom Galleries website: “We are guests in someone else's home and we respect and appreciate the opportunity that we have been given and work within the limitations of that invitation.” The limitations of that invitation are what have gotten many in the arts community upset. The arts community is demanding a stop in censorship and the organizers defend themselves by stating we are a “privately owned business whose goal is to sustain itself”.

For profit galleries are middlemen. It is a business and if it is a good business then it makes a profit. Featuring works they think will be most likely to sell and taking the steps required to sell them, is what a gallery does. Is a grocery store morally obligated to stuff their shelves with healthy food or the food that sells the most? A food manufacture does not even have the moral obligation to choose the best quality ingredients for the products we as consumers ingest.
At what point is Liza Simone, executive producer of Phantom Galleries in L.A. obligated to show art work she deems as less likely to sell? If Simone is following well played out guidelines and the works by artist Christiana are in fact simply less likely to sell because they offend potential buyers or their quality is lacking then is it not her prerogative to make that decision? If on the other hand the guidelines are those established by the City of Long Beach then this is a load of shit.
An elected government has the moral obligation to encourage the people of that city to be exposed, educated and heard when it comes to Arts and Culture. A city does not have the right to censor art work. Phantom Galleries L.A. states that “we do not censor or suppress any artists work but we do edit what can and can not be placed into each property based on the community that the property is located in.”

From this we can assume then that it was not Simone that was the driving force behind the decision but rather a decision was made to remove art that explicitly showed a woman’s nipple based on city guidelines. Apparently nipples qualify under the definition of “work that will offend or intentionally provoke or incite numerous complaints.” In further defense of their decision to not include all of Christiana’s pieces Phantom Galleries states “we are only able to offer Artist's opportunities if we have participating locations for their exhibits to be in.” And “[c]learly we would no longer be desirable guests if we [displayed work that is considered offensive] and would be asked to leave.”

Here is the link for more of Christiana's painting at the Faraci Art +Design (FA+D)- http://www.faraciart.com/

Personally I feel that the quality of the works removed by the Phantom Gallery L.A. from the 4 Chambers exhibit are of equal caliber. Christiana’s paintings are openly sexual. They are a reflection of human bodies, both male and female. On the F+D site Christiana’s work is described as using “the female as an iconic figure of strength to seduce the audience and explore social issues to incite discussion and positive change.” It seems that Phantom Galleries L.A. would have been aware of this prior to accepting Christiana’s work into the exhibit. In the L.A. Times article by Louis Sahagun, Simone is quoted as saying that Christiana is simply “trying to create a fuss for publicity”. What an unsophisticated remark to be made in light of the transparent mutual advantage any controvery of this nature has. Christiana’s emotions are sincere and it is sad that a community that is regenerated through mutual support has been unable to resolve this issue. Phantom Galleries’ overseers failed to pacify the artist by not providing sufficient briefing so as to avoid snubbing one of their own. To have originally suggested that Christiana’ art was of a lesser distinction further demonstrate the unseasoned management of this incident.

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