Caution - Not your average news story.
Boulder library's 'string of penises' artwork miffs some
By Lynn Bartels and Julie Poppen, News Staff Writers
BOULDER -- If it's any consolation, from a distance they look like socks hanging on a clothesline.
That's the assessment from Karen Ripley, director of cultural programs for the Boulder Public Library.
She is stunned at the outcry over a piece of art that features 21 ceramic . . . ummm . . . men's appendages, which are displayed on a clothesline in the library. It's entitled "Hung out to dry."
"Men find this disturbing, but women find it amusing," Ripley said.
"I think it's rather powerful myself," said Julia Wrapp, a city planner who was attending another function at the library Wednesday night.
The artwork is part of an exhibition sponsored by Safehouse, which assists women and children who are victims of domestic violence. The exhibit, "Art Over Domestic Violence," has been on display at the library gallery since Oct. 19.
Not surprisingly, Ripley said, the artwork by domestic violence victims features themes about men, women, sexuality and violence.
"The whole point of the exhibit is to make people think about domestic violence," Ripley said. "The Safehouse is trying to bring it to the public's attention."
Ripley said the library hadn't received a single complaint until what is known as the "flag flap."
Marcelee Gralapp, longtime library director, initially refused a staff request to display a large American flag from the glass ceiling at the library's south entrance. She has since relented, but the brouhaha resulted in public scrutiny.
Ripley said 52 people called the library Monday over the flag flap, and three of them mentioned the clothesline piece.
Radio talk-show host Peter Boyles on Wednesday discussed the artwork.
A sign outside the gallery alerts visitors that they may find the display offensive. It says: "This exhibit contains mature material that may be objectionable to some."
The gallery is the site of a variety of community events, including a celebration Wednesday night of the 50-year anniversary of the city's planning department.
Community activist Ricky Weiser said she saw a young boy stare at the clothesline exhibit. Then she heard his mother say, "No dear, they're corn cobs."
Planning director Peter Pollock said it was hard for the planning department's anniversary party to compete with media attention over the clothesline piece.
"Fifty years of planning doesn't cut it when you have a string of penises," he said.
November 8, 2001