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Gallery Space: John Waters: Indecent Exposure

614now Staff

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My first exposure to the work of John Waters is as banal as it gets—a pubescent 15-year-old boy greedily popping in a VHS tape of a film that touted itself as the filthiest movie ever made: “Pink Flamingos.” But as the years rolled by, my palate matured to appreciate Waters’s contribution to the American cinematic lexicon beyond baseless shock value. Sure, the experimental Baltimore-based filmmaker has certainly deconstructed the 50’s puritanical model in which he was raised with sleazy, postmodern zeal, but there is much more to Waters than freaking out audiences.

A cultural icon for individualism, Waters is emblematic of artistic force and deviant expression—a shining star of queer and racial identity. His newest art exhibition, “John Waters: Indecent Exposure.” is a wide assortment of Waters’s visual art, presenting over 160 photos, sculptures, writings and films that has been waiting in his arsenal over the past decade. By bringing his darkest fascinations to light, we get to see inside the mind of the 60-something sophisticate, armed with a camera, a pencil thin mustache, and anecdotally, a lifetime supply of poppers.

(614): Tell me about the genesis of Indecent Exposure.

Waters: It began, I guess in 1992, which is probably the date of the earliest piece that is in here when I secretly took pictures off the television screen. Then Colin de Land, an art dealer in New York who I really enjoy, asked me if I’ve ever done anything with them. I guess you can say I’m celebrating familiar and insider knowledge of the film and art business in a way that’s hopefully humorous, because I like to make fun of things that I really like.

Do you think this work shares the same artistic goals of your films?

I think saying “artistic goals” might be a little lofty. You could say it, but I wouldn’t say it about myself certainly. I think everything that I do—my spoken word shows, my books, my movies, my photographs, my sculpture—all have the same value, which is that I am trying to make you laugh at things that things that maybe aren’t funny in real life and to get you to see something in a different way and to accept things that go wrong and fail and that are incomprehensible to the regular people that go look at art.

Give us a couple of examples of your work and what it means to you.

Well, I love to do jokes on minimalism. I have a piece in there called “21 Pasolini Pimples.” At first, you think that they are just nipples, but they’re not. From seeing so many Pasolini movies, I realized that he liked men that had pimples. So, I went through all of his movies and just cut out all of the pimples as artlessly as I could, glued them down in a kind of kindergarten way to show a very obscure fetish that maybe no one ever noticed about Pasolini.

John Waters Beverly Hills John, 2012. Chromogrenic print. Rubell Family Collection, Miami Image courtesy of Marianne Boesky Gallery © John Waters

I did the same thing by collaging Grace Kelly’s elbows, because I think she has such beautiful elbows. But do men ever say, “Wow nice elbows?” I just wanted to have a piece that wasn’t sexist that was calling out “Hey! Great elbows you got there!” Each time I try to notice things you’re not supposed to notice.

Would you describe your exhibition as a comedy showcase?

Sure, because my entire goal is to make people laugh. But there are parts that are also serious. You look at this piece called “9/11” and it’s just the name of two movies that are completely forgettable that were on the planes that crashed that day. A terrible detail can be something that makes you makes you go “whoa.” When you look at it, it is completely benign, but when you find out why it makes you think of those movies in a whole different way. I am always trying to take the original meaning of whatever the original films were and convert it into something completely different than the writer or film director ever imagined.

How do you define trash?

Trash as a word is kind of overused. I did “Mondo Trasho” when Warhol did “Trash” and we had no idea we were using those terms at the exact same time until the films were released. I once had a critic say, “Why do you beat us to the typewriter by calling your own work trash?” I wanted to take that word and make it my own.

How has your audience reactions changed since you first started your career?

Well what I did in the beginning of my career is on television now…. So what I am saying is that it is much closer to what American humor is today. Today I think what you have to do is make people laugh at something they wouldn’t normally laugh at to get people to listen.

“Indecent Exposure” runs from Feb. 2 to Apr. 28 at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

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Standard Hall, two others reportedly closed

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According to multiple news outlets, including 10tv.com, the beleaguered Short North hot spot Standard Hall is once again closed temporarily after one of its employees allegedly tested positive for COVID-19.

The original Facebook and other social media posts that led to the news reports have been removed from Standard Hall's social media sites.

Standard Hall was one of the first establishments to reopen once COVID restrictions were lifted and was immediately one of the first to close due to violations. It reopened just three weeks ago.

The state does not require a restaurant to close after an employee tests positive but strongly recommends it. In this case, two other Corso Ventures establishments are reportedly closed because the same employee was within both places: the Short North Pint House and Short North Goody Boy. The now deleted Facebook post supposedly said they were closing all three for a short time to deep clean each of the establishments.

You can stay tuned for updates here or on Standard Hall's Facebook page.

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Toledo officer killed; Statehouse flags to fly half staff

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Photo courtesy Fox 8 Cleveland provided to them by Ohio Going Blue

Governor Mike DeWine issued a statement this morning after Toledo police officer Anthony Dia was killed in the line of duty this morning around 12:30 a.m.

DeWine has ordered Statehouse and Lucas County flags at half staff through his funeral service, expected next week.

"Fran and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death last night of Toledo Police Officer Anthony Dia in the line of duty," DeWine stated. "We extend our sympathy to his wife and 2-year-old child, his other family members, and his colleagues in the Toledo Police Department.  To honor the life and service of Officer Dia, I have ordered that the flags in Lucas County and at the Statehouse be lowered to half staff beginning tomorrow and through his funeral service."

You can read the in-depth account, including witness statements and video of the event on the Toldeo Blade website here.

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CAPA cancels Cinema Columbus film festival

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COVID continues to wreck havoc on anything remotely resembling a gathering as CAPA and its event partners today announced the cancelation of Cinema Columbus 2020, a new Columbus film festival celebrating new and diverse cinematic works from around the world.

While new dates have not yet been determined, the first annual Cinema Columbus will be rescheduled for 2021.

“This was to be the inaugural year for Cinema Columbus, but with all the challenges of 2020, we felt that a fledgling festival would not be best positioned for success,” stated CAPA President and CEO Chad Whittington. “We thank the Drexel TheatreGateway Film CenterWexner Center for the Arts, and community partner Film Columbus for their commitment to this event and look forward to launching this important cinematic celebration in 2021.”

Learn more here.

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