Artist: Gordon Skinner
Date of Action: August 2021
Region: North America
Location: New Haven, CT
Confronting Bodies: Artspace, New Haven; New Haven Police Department; City Parks & Recreation Department
Description of Artwork: Local New Haven artist Gordon Skinner painted the police-pig picture as part of a mixed-media piece called “Cops” (aka "Cop-Pig") that includes cut-up Marilyn Manson images and a cassette tape attached to a milk-crate-as-basketball-hoop. It was one of four milk-crate pieces Skinner created for his “Urban Totem Series” commissioned by Artspace for its month-long City Wide Open Studios (CWOS). Artspace hung Skinner’s works on a wall behind a fence on the Hudson Street side of the city-owned Goffe Street Armory, which served as the site for the CWOS mass exhibit.
The Incident: City parks and recreation director Rebecca Bombero said the city had received complaints from a cop and a correctional officer at the Whalley jail, which is located on the same block as the Armory. She suggested that Artspace move Skinner’s work. Artspace considered moving the installation to the front of the Armory in full public view, but in a context that showed it was part of the art exhibition. Skinner felt it would compromise the message, soo he and and CWOS Curator Sarah Fritchey moved “Cops” to a wall inside Artspace’s Orange Street gallery while leaving the other three milk-crate pieces in place.
Results of Incident: Artspace curator Sarah Fritchey organized a public forum about the issues raised by the incident. The forum ran from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, inside the gallery at 50 Orange St. Fritchey called NCAC on the day of the panel, too late to learn that Artspace was under no obligation to move the piece based on complaints from the community. According to The New Haven Independent (Debate Grows Over Cop-Pig Art Decision, by THOMAS BREEN
Debate Grows Over Cop-Pig Art Decision, by THOMAS BREEN | Oct 21, 2016 12:12 pm
Public Forum: When Public Art Meets Public Dissent, Thursday, Oct 20, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM; Location: Artspace New Haven: 50 Orange St, New Haven, CT
Local artist sparks controversy with painting, By Jacquie Slater, WTNH Reporter. Published: October 12, 2016, 5:48 pm
Police “Pig” Moved Indoors, by PAUL BASS | Oct 11, 2016 2:42 pm