Saturday, April 22, 2006



By Phyllis Schaltenbrand
and Tony Brockmeyer

Award winning artist Philip Hitchcock has removed his sculpture, “The Creation of Adam,” from the Foundry Art Centre and has notified the organizers of the St. Charles Spring ArtWalk he will not participate. The Foundry Art Centre at Saint Charles had chosen a sculpture by Philip Hitchcock as its centerpiece exhibit for The Saint Charles Spring ArtWalk, April 28, 29, and 30, 2006. The Creation of Adam, inspired by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel was to be on view daily at the Foundry Art Centre's main entrance for the entire month of April. He said he removed it because of censorship. Joyce Rosen, Executive Director of the Foundry Art Centre told the First Capitol News there was no censorship and there is no official policy on frontal nudity.

Hitchcock was going to demonstrate the process of casting from life at the Foundry Art Centre, during the Spring ArtWalk festivities.

Hitchcock told the First Capitol News, “I installed “The Creation of Adam,” on Sunday, April 2nd at the Foundry Art Centre. I discovered the “Fig Leaf” nonsense 24 hours after the initial set up of the sculpture.”

Hitchcock said several attempts to contact Joyce Rosen, the executive director of the Foundry Art Centre, were futile. He produced an e-mail that he sent to Rosen when he was unable to reach her by phone. In his e-mail he said, “No more “vigilante censorship.” There needs to be in place a “Do Not touch” policy for my work, that includes patrons and staff. I am most disturbed by the actions of Sara Beth (according to Hitchcock she is an employee at the Foundry Art Centre), who having received neither a complaint nor a raised eyebrow, took it upon herself in anticipation of controversy to censor my work. I’m sure this action is not a duty listed in her job description. If this work is censored, that decision is to be made by you,” The work shall be displayed “as is” or I will happily remove it within 72 hours of your request. (During that 72 hour period there shall be no “modesty breeches,” table cloths or foliage, lain upon my work, nor anything similar that undignifies or undermines my art work. Both figures shall be draped in their entirety until I can remove them. Having lived that last quarter of a century in earth quake country, I learned to live without the constant fear of a shaker. I found it was best to simply keep a gallon of fresh water under the sink and let disaster take me by surprise. I think it’s better to foster a climate of righteousness and leadership thank to expect the other shoe to drop. I’d rather say, “I’m shocked by their small mindness,” than, “I knew this would happen.”

Removing his art work after 13 days at the Foundry Art Centre, Hitchcock in a letter to those involved with the St. Charles Spring ArtWalk wrote, “After being invited to install my sculpture “The Creation of Adam” inspired by Michelangelo’s Fresco at the Sistine Chapel, in the entry of the St. Charles Foundry Art Centre, the work was targeted repeatedly for censorship. On one occasion I found a fig leaf covering Adam’s nudity. (Literally a piece of foliage had been laid across the genitals.) On at least two other occasions, including a wedding on April 8, dish rags or table cloths were draped across Adam’s genitals. The event on the 8th happened after I sent Foundry executive director Joyce Rosen a letter expressly stating that no modifications were to be made on my work. If it’s too controversial then please allow me some dignity and drape the piece in its entirety. My request went ignored. Now in what I consider the final insult to me personally and to my reputation as an artist, a massive twelve foot wall was placed six feet in front of my sculpture. Please try to imagine how I felt as an artist having a wall placed in front of work I was invited to put there in the first place. I was humiliated. I was embarrassed to have my work hang in a place that would treat me with such disrespect. Never in my 17 year international exhibition history has my work been denigrated the way it was in just two short weeks at the St. Charles Foundry Art Centere.

I was left no choice but to remove the work, and I am withdrawing m participation and support in the St. Charles Spring ArtWalk.

Unfortunately, I believe that commingled with the censorship of my work is a considerable does of homophobia. The fact that a large breasted female bronze remains just outside the Foundry’s doors is a glaring inconsistency. Why aren’t her breasts and genitals draped in fabric? Perhaps I wasn’t targeted because of the nudity in my work, but because I was the only openly gay artist participating in the Artwalk. Whatever the reason my work was targeted for censorship, the impression I’m left with is this: St. Charles is not a welcome environment for the Arts.

Hitchcock also provided an e-mail he received from Christy Sawyer of Studio 17 in the Foundry:
Philip: Of all that I’ve seen of your work, I’m so disappointed that you chose that piece to display at the Foundry. I can only assume it was poor judgment, bad taste, or deliberate defiance. Surely you didn’t think there would be NO response to your deliberate disregard for the Foundry’s limitation on full frontal nudity. Given that the Foundry is a meeting place for sooooo many streams of life: weddings, children’s events AND art events, it boggles the mind that you chose that piece. And especially because so many of your other pieces are so very very beautiful and are not genitally explicit.

To compare the breasts on the sculpture outside the Foundry with the detailed penis on your piece is absolutely absurd. Snail’s sculpture doesn’t even have nipples! Nor does it have genitals as you implied.

And by the way, where on the roster of artists in the Spring ArtWalk does it indicate WHO IS GAY AND WHO IS NOT/ Is there a “g” beside your name? How would anyone know that fact unless you had sent this inflammatory email?

You put us in a bad light and I’m very resentful of that. The Foundry Art Centre has been on the front line for the last two years bringing the arts into this community and I greatly resent you implying that this is not a welcome environment. Everyone else who opens a gallery of studio in Historic St. Charles will stand on the shoulders of the Foundry Art Centre. Christy Sawyer.

The First Capitol News asked a St. Charles grandmother who frequently visits the Art Foundry with her grandson what her thoughts were regarding the “Creation of Adam.”

“My four year old grandson and I periodically go th the art foundry and look at the art. We walked around and looked at everything and that was one of the pieces we looked at. The only comment from either of us was from my my grandson who said wow that is a big statue compared to the other ones. There was no repulsion due to the nature of the figure. We viewed it as a piece of art and moved on . This is much ado about nothing because if a four year old boy doesn’t notice or make comments what's the big deal?”

Joyce Rosen, Executive Director of the Foundry Art Centre told the First Capitol News, “The work was installed on a Sunday when I was not here. On Monday, when I came in I discovered it had been draped with a table cloth and I removed it. One of the artists who has a studio upstairs, as a joke, covered it with a dried flower. Philip came in and saw it covered with the dried flower. I apologized to him At a press party, on Wednesday, I told Philip that private clients use our facilities for different functions and asked him if it could be covered if they asked. He said I can do that. On April 7th we had the Foundry rented for a wedding and the bride asked that the sculpture be covered and we covered it with a table cloth.”

When questioned if the Foundry Art Centre had a policy prohibiting full frontal nudity Joyce Rosen said, We have no official policy on censoring. I do tell the artists exhibiting here to be award that we are a family viewing facility and to be sensitive.”

Joyce Rosen said she had not seen the sculpture prior to it’s installation. “He has a drawing on his web site with God’s hand extended to Adam and I though that was the one being installed here. You could not tell from the web site that Adam was fully nude.”

When asked about response from the St. Charles Spring ArtWalk Committee regarding his refusal to participate Hitchcock said, Although I have received no official response from the St. Charles Spring ArtWalk Committee, I have received a direct apology via e-mail from Tom Hannegan who is a committee member and through my publicist I received word from Nadine Boon, Committee head, who expressed her apologies and states that my absence would be the ArtWalk’s loss.”

The juried ArtWalk, April 28-30, 2006, is free and open to the public and will showcase 50 professional regional artists who will exhibit their work in a dozen sites on Main Street in downtown St. Charles and in the Foundry Art Centre, 520 North Main Center.