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Art-centered community does not need a city censor

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When is art, art? The beaver statues were up for a couple of weeks and thousands of people enjoyed them, then the one across from the store of one of our most successful artists was removed. Did the artist who looked at it every day and who designs lovely jewelry for all of us see anything offensive in it? Perhaps he would be qualified to judge. Who actually made this decision? Can we have a referendum on this?

Should Bemidji be known as the city that censors exhibits after a few weeks, because someone finally feels affronted? Most of us are happy that we are known as an art-centered city with an abundance of sculptures all around our downtown. Does anyone expect everyone to not dislike any of them?

Art expresses different things to different people. Some can find anything obscene. Most don't look for it and therefore are more likely to see beauty. Someone failed the Rorschach test this time; seeing obscenity in a painted statue of a beaver. Did they, perhaps, ask the artist for an interpretation? Probably not. Why not? Should they have the authority to have it removed? Probably not. Why not? Because no one appointed them city censor. Or did they?

Charles Parson

Bemidji

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