MAPPLETHORPE© Port Whitman Times 2004
     Regarding cutting off grants to the National Endowment for the Arts, it does seem a shame that Congress would chop the endowment to a whole arts organization just because they disapprove of one or two pieces of art (i.e. Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano and their photographic ventures into the avant garde). I think most people proba-bly agree that the examples that these two photographers have presented, i.e., one of kinky sex among homosexuals, the other of a crucifix submerged in the photographer's urine, are over the line into bad taste, but banning federal funding for "obscene and indecent art" seems like killing a fly with a baseball bat. But then who decides what is good art and what is bad art? If it's artistic even if you don't like the subject matter, it might be good art if it's artistically done, and if you do like the subject matter but it's badly done then it's probably not very artistic.
     I guess that's why Congress just throws money and gives it to the National Endow-ment of the Arts charging them with the responsibility of making the decision; of course once you do that you can't then go back and say oops, you made the wrong de-cision. The NEA has been with us since 1964 and certainly that there have been many pieces in somewhat questionable taste ac-cording to the attitudes of the times, so why all of a sudden start with the restrictions? Perhaps a slap on the wrist might be indi-cated; congress does that by bringing it up.
     But then, is photography really art, or is it merely a process by which something can be done artistically? Certainly a creative way of looking at things is artistic, but it is not a totally creative art like sculpture, painting, writing, or music composition. Photography might more closely be compared with jour-nalism-taking a subject that is already there and looking at it thru a particular prism peculiar to the viewer's eye, and it probably ought to be considered in that light. Now as to whether the National Endowment for the Arts should fund exhibits of photography per se is another question, perhaps open to de-bate. I'm sure if we were all to be exposed to these so called pieces of art and were allowed to vote on them, a consensus about each piece could be arrived at. If we were all able to somehow troupe thru a museum and cast a vote, each piece of art then would acquire a following of praisers or scoffers. Of course we would then have to consider the back-ground and education of each of the voters.
     Then, do you really have to have an art education to appreciate art, or is it better appreciated on its own terms? If we were all able to cast a vote and factor in what we knew about art along with our appreciation of a particular piece, it would acquire a certain acceptability quotient, and then the most popular art - much like the most popular mo-vies - would survive. Do we really want Bat-man to be the 1989 representativemovie?            But then that's really what we do in elect-ing our representatives. We elect them to take our wishes to the government for us and rep-resent what they surmise our wishes to be in terms of appropriations, spending our tax money on different projects. Frankly, there ought to be a telephone number that each of us can call for 50¢ to vote yes or no on any particular issue. That way the government could make money and we could express ourselves, dollar by dollar - one phone call per telephone number. That might not please the avant garde, but it would allow us to ex-press our opinions on certain works. How many of us have seen Mapplethorpe's exhibit or Serrano's Crucifix Submerged (Why did he have to tell that it was urine - is the shock part of the art?)  
HenryFrancisco PW Times

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​Where to go, what to do
Hinges now and then on who
You are and where you're at
On the bench or up to bat–
Exhibiting competence hitherto


Freedom of fancy
Could be a bit chancy;
Size up repercussions
 That set off discussions
Far from romance-y

Adapting to mortality
Requires a mentality
Of limited vision
Involving collision
With spirituality

When all of our lives, at ends
Are lastly deprived of friends,
Our dreams offer hope
We'll slide down a slope
To a pool of what Heaven portends


Who would speak for God
Purveying thoughts that prod
Spirituality 
Behavioral morality
Everyone giving the nod?

Is life just playing,
Merely portraying
Personae in dramas
Written by mamas
To keep us from straying?

What is the name of the game
We play when we claim
To become something other
Than what Dad or Mother
Intended to bring us to fame?


Once you're dead and gone
Aspire to be moving on
To a life hereafter
With nothing but laughter
Filling each subsequent dawn

When being depressed
Turns into obsessed
It's time to renew,
Thus bidding adieu
To matters distressed

When death would better
Existence's fetter
Why on earth snuff it?
Go forth and rough it;
In doing become a go-getter


Contemplate-able caprice:
Gives cognitive release
From realities borne
Of circumstances forlorn,
Thus saneness to increase

Henry Francisco

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