Brooke Mason’s Controversial Art Gets a Second Chance

“Chandler,” Julienne Johnson, mixed media, 30” x 30”; “Leda,” Mei Xian Qiu, photograph, 24” x 36”; “Soar,” Brooke Mason, photograph, 36” x 36."
“Chandler,” Julienne Johnson, mixed media, 30” x 30”; “Leda,” Mei Xian Qiu, photograph, 24” x 36”; “Soar,” Brooke Mason, photograph, 36” x 36.”

An exhibit curated by Brooke Mason, a photographer whose work was deemed too explicit for display in Plummer Park’s Fiesta Hall, will go on display beginning Thursday.

The exhibit, called “Awaken: the female voice,” consists of multimedia works by women.

The group show explores the transformation of a woman during the first half of her life with some of the pieces highlighting the innocence, liberty and freedom of expression one has as a child, while others examine challenges of becoming an adult. Artists featured in the exhibition include Fatemeh Burnes, Lola Del Fresno, Diane Holland, Julienne Johnson, Camella DaEun Kim, Nicole Landau, Feng Ling, Mason and Mei Xian Qiu.

A decision by the city to remove two of Mason’s photographs from an exhibit at Fiesta Hall last month sparked a controversy, with some criticizing the city for “censoring” art. The exhibit, curated by Nancy Meyer of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, was one of several events organized to celebrate March as Women’s History Month.

Mason said “Voyeur,” one of her photographs, was removed because a Plummer Park employee had complained that it was too explicit. Another of her works, “Glass Ceiling,” also was removed. Mason said the city also had objected to images she had proposed for an exhibit at City Hall. She said she was questioned as to the age of the woman depicted in “Soar,” which will be in Thursday’s exhibit.

In the debate over the photos, then-Mayor Lindsey Horvath sided with Mason, saying she did not find them too sexually explicit.

Maribel Louie, manager of the city’s Arts and Economic Development Division, said the city “actively supports the presentation of provocative and challenging work, (but) it also understands that these works must be presented with care and consideration.” Other provocative exhibits, Louie noted, such as one by the Tom of Finland Foundation in Plummer Park several years ago, made clear that they contained adult content and graphic images were not placed where they could be accidentally viewed by those playing in the park.

The “Awaken” exhibit will be in Art Room 1 at the Plummer Park Community Center, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., which will effectively function as a gallery for the art rather than display it in places trafficked by random park visitors. In an interview with WEHOville, Mason said she was told the door to the exhibit would carry this sign saying that following:

Please note: Some of the artworks included in this exhibit contain nudity or other imagery that some viewers may find offensive. Viewer discretion is advised.” 

The show opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. in Art Room 1 that is free and open to the public. The art will remain on display through June 27 and can be viewed during regular Community Center hours, from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week.

1 Comment
  1. Let me see if I understand this correctly, one of Brooke Mason’s photographs, was removed because a Plummer Park employee had complained that it was too explicit? REALLY? Wow you mean to tell me that the Plummer Park EMPLOYEES have been empowered to over rule the board of directors? So just exactly where do these wonderfully empowered Plummer Park employees stand on the issues of higher wages, better working conditions, health care, profit sharing and, benefits? Oh let me guess, they are just completely uninterested in all of this, deferring to the better judgement of a small group of capitalists on the matter but, their lives are completely focused on suppressing the artistic expression of women? Someone please tell me that I’m NOT the only one has some serious questions about who is really behind the attempts to censor Ms. Mason’s art work, and I think you will find that it has a-lot to do with people of considerably more influence than EMPLOYEES of Plummer Park. What contact I have with a few Plummer Park employees consisted of giving them a few copies of a progressive newspaper and, listening to how management basically tells them “if you don’t like it leave” when raising even the slightest of most reasonable concerns. Many of these employees are FEMALE (representing 52% of the Human population) and expressed interest in issues effecting them like health care, child care, sick leave, reproductive health care and freedom, comparable pay and, more women in positions of power in society. NONE of them expressed support for Donald Trump or the republicans for that matter and, suppressing women’s artwork didn’t top the list of priorities!

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