Naked in Iowa
Downtown nude: Is it art or graffiti?
JASON CLAYWORTH and JOSE DE JESUS - Des Moines Register
August 2, 2005
DES MOINES, IOWA - A painting of a nude woman on the side of a downtown Des Moines building has raised eyebrows, elicited smirks and forced city inspectors to determine whether it's art or graffiti.If it's deemed art, it might need a permit. If it's graffiti, it must be removed.But one of the artists says what now is considered sinful by some will turn saintly, maybe as soon as today, when the woman is transformed into an angel.Whether the angel is clothed, he said, will be left to divine inspiration.
"This is a piece of legitimate artwork," said J. Brommel, co-founder of the Des Moines Project, which promotes local artists.The painting was commissioned partly by the makers of Red Bull energy drink. A graffiti artist and others started the project during a Saturday night party at their galleries at 1408 Locust St. The group had permission from the building's owner, Brommel said.City leaders complain that the work looks too much like graffiti.
"I'd rather it's not there, to be perfectly honest," said City Councilwoman Christine Hensley, who has passed on complaints to the inspectors. Talk on the street Monday was mixed. Downtown worker Andy Hall said the artwork brought a smile to his face. But Lori Welch said she and others see the painting as inappropriate for its location. Bob Bucklin, who works nearby, said the naked lady is great art. "It does show the female form, but so what?" he said. "It's not as offensive as a Calvin Klein ad or a Victoria's Secret catalog."