Excerpted from "Sex and Death on the Restroom Wall" Houston Press, March7-13, 1996
|In this bathroom, on Sunday, February 24, the work reached someone too young to qualify for adulthood. That's when a Westheimer shopper and her daughter ducked into Brasil for the little girl's bathroom break, and when the little girl came back out, she had some questions for mommy.|
don't understand how upset my daughter and myself were when we walked into
this bathroom. amd there's one picture in particular that really bothered
me. It's the one where the legs were spread and the penis was coming toward
the vagina. I mean, this is a ten-year-old girl. And I realize, that the
90's is the sex age, it's the disease age, and it's this age and it's that
age, but I will protect my child the best I can, and hopefully any other
children that are that age..."
It's not particularly ironic to note that protection was also Avery's stated intention in creating the wallpaper.
On Monday, the upset complaintant phoned the Houston Police Department's vice squad to report her distress, and then she called Brasil and spoke with Dan Ferguson, who owns the coffeehouse-cum-gallery.
"I apologized and let her know that I wasn't intending to offend anyone...that it was part of the museum exhibit, and it was informative, and there's a plaque up inside the bathroom [identifying the artist, the work, and its intentions] and I asked if there was anything I could do to make her happy, to remedy it, and that's when she asked if I would put up a sign that forewarned bathroom patrons that they would possibly be shocked by obscene material. So I told her I would do that, and then an hour later the police showed up."
Officer S.R. Andrews and two other plainclothes vice officers arrived at Brasil and began taking photographs of the offending men's and women's bathroom walls before identifying themselves to Ferguson. "...They explained the Penal Code (Texas Penal Code 43.24 which pertains to the sale, distribution or display of harmful material to a minor) and said that I could take it down or I could talk to my lawyer and find out what I wanted to do."
Andrews) also says he advised Ferguson that if charges were brought,
would probably fall within the province of section 43.24. Never mind that
provision (c1) of the applicable section states, "It is a defense
to prosecution under this section that: the sale, distribution or exhibition
was by a person having scientific, educational, governmental or other similar
"Ferguson, who had recently received a license to add beer and wine to his coffee shop menu, didn't relish the idea of undue police attention, and decided to cover the offending wallpaper with sheets of butcher paper. "I talked to the officer [Tuesday] afternoon, I called him up and I told him I covered it up, and he was like,'Great, we didn't really want to do anything on this, but we just had to respond to it.' He said he was going to call this woman and ask if she was satisfied, and I'm hoping she is. She had mentioned she had talked to her attorney. The woman was satisfied."
(Dr. Avery) "This one person objecting, and the comments that I've had have mostly been from women who say 'I didn't know that the female condom was available,' so I suspect the ten-year-old girl knows what a condom is, but she'd never seen a female condom before, so she went and said to her mother, 'What is that?' I would suspect the mother had also never seen a female condom before, and probably was educated in the process of objecting to what is designed as an educational project to save lives."
|Back to Exhibition, Print Action||More|