August 5, 2008

Two women one bathtub

Two naked women cavorting in a bath in an art gallery's shopfront are being used to promote a new Brisbane art gallery in a stunt that has drawn fire from a local family group.

Peak-hour motorists on Ipswich Rd have been treated to the nightly spectacle for the past week to advertise an exhibition at the Joshua Levi Galleries titled Naked New York.

The exhibition by world-renowned Brisbane artist Tracey Keller features 25 original acrylic paintings on linen depicting naked women in various poses.

In the stunt, two apparently naked women take a bath together (with lots of bubbles to cover up their bikini) and separately from 5pm to 7pm in the gallery's window, in candle-lit scenes reminiscent of those made famous by Mena Suvari in the movie American Beauty.

No complaints have been received by police or Brisbane City Council, but the stunt has been criticized by the Queensland branch of the Australian Family Association.

President Mark Holzworth described it as "childish, immature, teenage schoolboy voyeur stuff" that added no credibility to the gallery or the artists featured.

"This will not attract art-lovers, it will attract voyeurs which is not good for Brisbane or women in general," Mr Holzworth said.

"I thought we had grown up as a society. Not even brothels would be this brazen to promote their services." (Probably because they know it was draw too much attention.)

Mr Holzworth said it was also concerning that the uncensored nature of the display meant young children walking along the street could be exposed without warning.

But gallery owner Joshua Collings, 27, said the display was tasteful and had attracted positive feedback from art lovers and serious investors alike.

"Some of the other galleries have turned up their noses, but we've been told Brisbane is not doing anything lively - this has more of a Melbourne or New York feel," Mr Collings said.

"We're more laidback, where (an exhibition) is more of an event than just paintings on a wall."

"We got the idea a few weeks ago and thought, 'what a great advertisement'. You see people slowing down in the street there, what better way to promote art?"

Police visited the gallery yesterday morning. A Queensland Police spokesman said they had been assured the women wore sheer tops and bikini bottoms. He said there had been no complaints and no reported traffic problems.

A Brisbane City Council spokeswoman said the council had no jurisdiction over the matter because its on private property and the women aren't technically naked.

There is a long history of women in bathtubs in nude art.

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