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Olympic Art Freeze Silences Creative Critics

Image of The Crying Room courtesy of

After ten years of operation featuring murals in rotation in the front of "The Crying Room" gallery at 157 East Cordova, the city has never deemed any art work offensive and ordered to have it removed.

Not the ape like creature with the business end of his genitalia hanging out; not the piece titled "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" depicting what could either be under age boys or lesbians disrobing; and not the mural of magenta balls, which, my god, just the title is disgusting (after all, how many stages past "blue" is that?). A number of other murals through the years which consist of messages written in spray paint have never been deemed "graffiti" by the learned art critics at city hall, until now.

Citing their anti-graffiti by-law, the City ordered the removal of a mural of the Olympic rings depicted as four sad faces and one happy face, although city spokesperson Theresa Beer swears it has nothing to do with the content. A city inspector contacted the building owner, Peter Wong, and ordered him to remove the graffiti, but after inspecting the premises, Mr. Wong couldn't see what they were talking about. The only thing there was the art work. But the learned city art critic had to (re?)educate Mr. Wong as to what is and is not art.

Rather than cause any problems for her landlord, gallery curator Colleen Heslin removed the piece, deeming that it was time to rotate anyway, as the piece had been up since September. But it's obviously a case of the "Olympic Chill" that's affecting artists and anybody who wants to publicly criticize the Olympics.

And there's no question that the provincial government's patience is wearing thin. On the last day that the legislature sat, November 26th, NDP member Kathy Corrigan asked: "British Columbians are paying for the games, but this government is allowing scalpers to use our B.C. 2010 logo to flog tickets for thousands of dollars above their face value. My question, again, to the minister: why is the government letting a scalper [referring to VANOC-sanctioned ticket reseller Jet Set Sports] haul in the gold while British Columbians are left in the cold?"

Minister of State for the Olympics, Mary Mcneil, replied "I think it's about time those on the other side of the House get excited about the games, because we're ready to be the host province. Our athletes are ready, and it's going to a great time for this province."

Translation: Don't you worry your pretty little head about it because there's nothing you can do about it. Just lie back and think about Canada. (Editor's Note:  Or, if you're one of those people who just can't get over it have a cuddle with one of the cute Olympic mascots Quatchi, Miga, Sumi, or, their fuzzy cutie sidekick: Muk Muk.  This VANOC-approved artform is available in sizes small, medium and large and is meant not to offend anyone  except  those with artistic sensibilities.  if you are offended squeeze your mascot and remain silent, or you may get a visit from ISU!  12 1/2 inch Miga is only $30.00 at the VANOC store and Giant Miga is only $249.99. )

It's mind-boggling that the governments' response at all levels seems to be, "There's nothing you can do about it and we're obligated to appease the protected bubble that is the Olympic Committee." Allowing peaceful protest would not affect my enjoyment of Canada winning hockey gold. In fact it would enhance it. The good guys truly would be the winners then.

But as it is, with the subtext being "we're willing to forgo everything that Canada stands for if that's what it takes to host the Olympics," it makes it hard to cheer. It's enough to make one want to get out the can of spray paint, and I shudder to think what would happen next.


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