Local artist sparks controversy with painting


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven based artist Gordon Skinner is the man behind a series titled “Urban Totems.” The four unique pieces were designed to engage people in the inner city in coming together and choosing basketball over trouble. The series was to be featured at this weekend’s Citywide Open Studio Festival.

“The idea is to invite different neighborhoods around New Haven to host an exhibition that is unjuried and uncensored,” said Sarah Frtitchey, the Gallery Director at Artspace New Haven.

All four of the pieces were to be displayed outside of the Goffe Street Armory. After receiving multiple complaints about one of them, the Parks and Recreation Department asked Skinner to have it moved. The artwork depicts a pig wearing a police cap and now hangs at Artspace on Orange Street.

“It is a bit disappointing that it’s not there and it’s no on the totem as it was supposed to be because there was supposed to be two free standing pieces,” said Skinner.

Originally the piece, titled Cops, was placed on the left side of the Armory, the same street as the Whalley Avenue Jail.

“I would describe it as an iconic figure, you know, highly identifiable,” said Skinner.

Parks and Rec said they received complaints from a correctional officer at the jail as well as an area cop.Skinner says the artwork isn’t a symbol of disrespect but rather a representation of what is happening in society.

“It’s bigger than me. It’s just my way of responding to the tragic events that have happened recently,” said Skinner.

While no longer in its intended location Skinner says he’s happy the piece has people talking. Artspace has scheduled a community forum about the artwork and the controversy surrounding freedom of expression for Thursday, October 20 from 4:30 to 6:30.

“It’s really doing its part in starting a dialogue for the community that I’m a part of. So, it’s already made me proud,” said Skinner.

News 8 reached out to the Parks and Recreation Department for comment but they did not return our calls.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s