ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - Attendance has spiked at a Jacksonville art museum since the city council president last week denounced as pornographic a photograph showing a nude pregnant woman reclining on a love-seat.
The artwork is one of 14 photographs on the theme of life transitions in an exhibition by Angela Strassheim at the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
"The man is entitled to his own opinion,” Strassheim, of Stamford, Connecticut, told Reuters Tuesday. “But I don’t think it in any way is pornography. Maybe he hasn’t seen enough porn.”
The number of visitors to the north Florida museum nearly tripled since council president Clay Yarborough last Tuesday called on Mayor Alvin Brown to rescind more than $230,000 in city funding for the museum. In correspondence with city staff, Yarborough suggested inaction equated to support of pornography.
“We will not move the photograph, we will not cover the photograph, we won’t show any warnings, as it’s simply not warranted,” museum director Marcelle Polednik told Reuters.
After days of negative publicity on social media about Yarborough’s stance, including a Facebook group which has organized a rally Wednesday against him and in support of the museum, Brown announced in a letter on Tuesday that he would not interfere with the exhibit.
Brown cited the city attorney’s opinion that defunding the museum would violate First Amendment rights, according to a copy obtained by Reuters.
Strassheim and Polednik both said they were surprised by Yarborough’s reaction.
“It’s a beautiful picture of a pregnant woman eight months along, ready to give birth. I feel like that’s a celebrated moment,” Strassheim said.
Yarborough declined to comment Tuesday in an emailed response to Reuters, and Brown did not return a call for comment.
Strassheim said the publicity has been good for her and the museum, but maybe not for Jacksonville.
“It’s kind of a crazy way to put a ... town on the map,” Strassheim said.
Editing by David Adams and Eric Walsh