An exhibition of art by serial killer John Wayne Gacy is on display in downtown Las Vegas. A controversy has sprung up surrounding the art, some gallery operators say it's wrong to profit from the sale of the art because of the nature of Gacy's crimes. But others in the art community say it's good to have high profile outsider art come to Las Vegas and despite Gacy's crimes it's good to get people talking about art in Las Vegas. We talk with one supporter of the exhibit about why the exhibit is good for Las Vegas and a professor from Northeastern University who has studied why art by serial killers interests people.
Wes Myles, owner, The Arts Factory
Jack Levin, Irving and Betty Brudnick, Profsof Sociology and Criminology, Northeastern University
I think the pictures should be BURNED!Donna Johnson –May 18, 2011 20:31:15 PM
I was very disappointed that there was not a balanced panel discussing this very important issue. Your guests: Wes Myles, the owner of the Arts Factory who admitted that his primary motive was to draw attention to his business; and Jack Levin, a professor who was flown out here and paid to discuss the topic. Other than the one caller, you had no one on the show who was articulating why the arts community is nearly 100% opposed to this show, and you allowed Mr. Myles to plug an event from which he hopes to personally benefit through increased interest in his business. Never mind that the "artist" in question tortured and murdered dozens of young men - not an issue to Wes Myles. Moral neutrality on this issue is inappropriate and dangerous, and this time, you were complicitous by providing free publicity for this show of murderabilia.Mike –May 17, 2011 10:49:56 AM
Hope you're well today. I was actually on hold to respond with a much needed comment, but time is not on our side in the honorable and tough role of being a producer. I feel like S.O.N. - exists because topics like artwork from a serial killer can be discussed in a healthy & safe environment. Artful mudslinging never got anyone anywhere worthwhile; it's seldom a "win/win" scenario.
My comment was thought of to give peace to the contentious feelings some might have at this business-man's decision. "I FEEL THAT IF GACY OR ANY OTHER MURDERER HAD HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN THE PAST, BEFORE THEIR BELIEFS WERE FORGED WITH EVIL - THEY MIGHT HAVE HAD A DIFFERENT PATH IN LIFE.
To me, it's always about our choice and freewill; and no one can really make us "feel" a certain way. There's a way to act and think independent of our circumstances & the disposition of others.
Maybe all a murderer is guilty of, is believing their own thoughts. Sure, they took it to the extreme but maybe they felt powerless. Let's work together in our beautiful LV, NV to inspire our youth. Some of them might have thoughts about where else to take the pain inside. LET LOVE RULETroy –May 17, 2011 11:56:29 AM
Thanks for your comments Mike. As we mentioned in the program, we did reach out to several critics of the exhibit, but all declined to join us. We assumed (rightly) that there would be people in the community who would have strong feelings and who would call in.
Sorry we didn't have a chance to air more discussion on this. Perhaps we should have given the segment more time.
But thanks again for expressing your thoughts here.
Adam Burke –May 17, 2011 12:02:50 PM
I think this whole topic is absurd. Art should never, under any circumstances, be censored in any way. To do so would detract from the very meaning of art. What if people were in an equivalent uproar about a painting of the pope in which he displayed as a Nazi monster. Either all art is OK of no art is OK.Alexis Prince –May 17, 2011 10:21:58 AM
In this conversation, it is important to define the word "art." My unabridged Webster's says that art is "The quality, production, or expression, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing or of more than ordinary significance." You'd be hard pressed to find any serious art critic who would remotely consider Gacy's amateurish drawings to rise to a level of aesthetic significance. The interest in this "art" is derived solely from its attachment to one of the most notorious murderers of the 20th Century. People who collect Gacy muderabilia do so for psychological or financial reasons, not because they think that these drawings are aesthetically important works of art.Mike –May 17, 2011 11:12:23 AM