An effort to bring public art displays to a small Michigan town backfired when one of the displays, a sculpture called "Blue Human Condition," was found to be too offensive to its more prudish residents.
Adrian, MI, almost became the Motor City decades ago when small manufacturers took up shop there, but the industry didn't quite catch fire there like it did 60 miles east in Detroit. It's still one of those charming little places where everyone seems to know each other and the downtown is straight out of the 1900s. It's third-biggest employer is the local shopping mall.
Last month, Adrian called on several artists to participate in the "Art Discovery Trail," where residents could see displays and purchase them if they were interested. One artist, Mark Chatterley, created "Condition" and it was placed near city hall.
The piece features seven androgynous blue figures leaning against each other. It's not unlike Chatterley's other works, like this one displayed in Lansing:
But some residents objected, saying it looked too much like the blue people were engaging in sex acts. City administrator Shane Horn and other staffers decided to cover the statue up in blue tarp and move it elsewhere, according to local news outlets:
No one on the committee that evaluated this year's sculptures saw the piece as sexual, Horn said.
"Art is somewhat ambiguous, and it's up to the interpretation of the viewer at times," he said.
However, Horn said, when people start saying they don't want to bring their children downtown because of a sculpture, that's a problem.
"We were getting enough complaints, enough concern from people, that we made the decision to have it removed, and we'll bring something else in its place," Horn said.
Chatterley has defended his work, saying it's one of the least controversial pieces in the display.
One local pastor has weighed in on the controversy thoroughly on YouTube, comparing the statue to the "gay pride parade in San Francisco" and accused city commissioners of "leading Adrian to Sodom" for installing the sculpture in the first place. "The vast majority of people in this community do not support the gay agenda," he says.
But if you're interested, the sculpture is for sale for $24,000.
Screengrab via YouTube