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NEW YORK TIMES, April 27, 2001
229 W. 43rd Street, New York, NY, 10036
(Fax: 212-556-3622 ) (E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
( http://www.nytimes.com )
City Museum Is Accused of Altering Its AIDS Exhibit
By SUSAN SAULNY
The curators of a new exhibit
at the Museum of the City of New York about a gay group's 20-year struggle
against AIDS said yesterday that they were upset that museum officials
softened the sexual content of some of their work and that the alterations
changed the tone of their story.
The exhibit, "Aids: A Living Archive,"
opened April 21 without a number of sexually graphic materials that some
consider historically important, said Jane Rosett, who was the curator
of the exhibit with her colleague and companion, Jean Carlomusto.
The exhibit, which is part of
"Gay Men's Health Crisis: 20 Years Fighting for People with H.I.V./AIDS,"
includes art and historical items documenting the public campaign against
AIDS, as well as interactive informative elements for museum visitors.
Dr. Lawrence D. Mass, one of the
founding members of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, said that the museum distorted
the message of some of the pieces on display by ordering that they be altered.
Dr. Mass, a physician who treats addictions, supplied some of the art from
"It's very disturbing," he said.
"I've begun to feel very incensed about this and upset. They really are
documents of art and history of the organization. In that sense it seems
like real censorship and distortion of history."
Dr. Mass and Ms. Rosett said that
photos were cropped to exclude images of intimacy between men, and that
museum officials rejected representations of condoms in the show. Ms. Rosett
also said she was told to exclude depictions of male genitals.
The curators, who were hired by
the Gay Men's Health Crisis, said that they were not advised of any overall
museum guidelines when they started work on the exhibit, and that they
found the absence surprising. When asked to talk about their guidelines
or say what was excluded from the show, museum officials declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for the museum, Sabeth Ryan Albert, said in a statement:
"It would be unfortunate if the important messages of this exhibition were
obscured by other agendas."
Marty Algaze, a spokesman for
the group, said the artists and Dr. Mass did not speak for the organization,
which is "very proud" of the exhibit. He said the group, a treatment and
advocacy group for people with AIDS, understood the compromises that were
necessary to have a partnership with the museum.
"I was told the museum gets a
large number of children and some sexually explicit material would be inappropriate
for them to see," he said. "If you're having a discussion about sexual
issues with gay men, you might be more graphic. It would be different if
you're talking to young people, or to the public, or a group of politicians
for that matter."
But the curators said any exhibit
dealing with AIDS and sexual issues should be as unfiltered as possible,
in the interest of public health education. They added that a history of
AIDS could not be fully told if references to sex were deleted.
"AIDS is not pretty, AIDS is not
Disney," Ms. Rosett said. "We didn't submit anything for shock value for
its own sake. We edited and culled from hundreds of images. We submitted
what we considered to be the most crucial documents of the movement's history."
One such work, a poster entitled
"800 Men," had been cropped to such an extent that its meaning was altered,
Dr. Mass said. It is from the group's first prevention program and fund-raiser,
and was intended to advocate the use of condoms. At the museum, however,
only the words are visible and the "overall effect is lost," he said. An
image of two men was taken out.
Ms. Rosett said she included some
materials over museum officials' objections, and even slipped a few items
in, one being a keychain in the shape of winged male genitals. She said
the keychain was important because it showed that some people with AIDS
were able to maintain a sense of humor.
Ms. Rosett also said that, against
the museum's objections, she included part of a poster that reads "Great
Sex! Don't Let AIDS Stop It." The poster, which was meant to tell bathhouse
patrons about AIDS prevention, was altered so that a graphic cartoon and
disease prevention tips were removed, she said.
Mark Baum, a patron of the exhibit,
said he had dealt with the same issues in the public art space at a downtown
restaurant he runs.
"These are always complicated
issues," said Mr. Baum, the chief executive of an Internet company. "I
have a lot of respect for anybody who tries to find a way through these
The exhibit will be on display
until Sept. 10.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, April 27, 2001
901 Mission St., San Francisco, CA, 94103
(Fax: 415-896-1107 ) (E-Mail: email@example.com )
( http://www.sfgate.com )
Big rent increase burdens chorus
Lord Martine, Chronicle Staff Writer
The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus
is facing a mammoth rent increase after losing its sublease at 400 Castro
The chorus was paying a $1 per
year rent in an agreement with Bank of America, which was leasing the building
from the Lurie Co. However, Lurie did not renew the bank's lease, which
forced the chorus to seek new headquarters at 18th Street and Hartford.
The chorus' rent will increase to $4,400 monthly.
In 1994, the San Francisco Board
of Supervisors passed a law regarding buildings at Castro and Market streets.
It required fast-food stores there to make two-thirds of the buildings
available rent-free to nonprofits. Recently, Supervisor Mark Leno added
retail establishments to the legislation.
The chorus must scrape together
first and last month's rent, as well as a $4,400 deposit, before its June
"We knew the lease was coming
to an end," said Scott Mandell, chorus executive director, "but it was
always a possibility that Bank of America could renew the lease, and we'd
get to stay."
How this all came about depends
on which of the parties you talk to.
Last fall, Mandell's calls to
Lurie, to find out exactly what was happening with 400 Castro St., went
unreturned until Leno stepped in, Mandell said.
With Leno's push, Robert Peltzman,
of Real Property Advisers in San Carlos who represents Lurie, contacted
Mandell and, according to Mandell, Peltzman said the company received no
offer -- at that time -- from Bank of America to renew the lease.
Eugene L. Valla, executive vice
president of the Lurie company, said that they offered the building to
Bank of America, but the bank was only interested in it as a site for ATMs.
However, Mandell said that Phil
Kelloff, corporate property manager for Bank of America, told him that
the bank had made an offer above the going rate on the entire building
and intended to let the Chorus remain.
Kelloff did not return phone calls.
Bank of America spokesman Harvey
Radin said: "I think that at one point there was some consideration given
to leasing the entire building. But because we don't have other operations
in that building, our focus was, in fact, on the space for the ATMs only.
But we couldn't come to an agreement."
With no agreement between the
corporations, the Chorus was caught in an expensive middle.
Peltzman suggested the chorus
submit a letter to Lurie requesting relocation funds. Mandell said he asked
for $25,000 for moving costs, $2,500 to replace usage fee they received
for an AT&T Cellular antennae on the rooftop, and -- because Peltzman
told him to throw in the kitchen sink -- $100, 000 to the Golden Gate Chorale
Foundation, a nonprofit that assists the Gay Men's Chorus financially.
But after the submission, Peltzman
told Mandell the chorus would get no money from Lurie, and if he wanted
cash for moving, the chorus should contact Bank of America.
While in rehearsals for its next
concert, the chorus is frantically applying for grants from the Wells Fargo
Foundation and California Lawyers for the Arts/Arthouse, which provides
one-time emergency assistance to nonprofits. And it may have to borrow
against its restricted endowment fund.
"I'm still hoping Lurie will do
the right thing," Mandell said.
"We're all working at our end
and the bank's end," Valla said. "Bank of America and the Lurie Co. had
a very constructive and positive meeting and were working toward a fair
and reasonable outcome that's positive for the neighborhood, the property
and the next generation of users."
Radin said, "The only negotiations
under way now are focused on the condition of the building and returning
the space back over to the landlord."