THE EXHIBITIONISTS (women's art salon)
manifesto | who's an exhibitionist? | in the flesh | exposure

The Casco Bay Weekly
Portland, Maine

A Celebration of Exhibitionism

One of 16 untitled self-portraits by New York City artist Fay Ku, part of "Exhibitionists," shows at the Skinny until July 31.

Eight female Exhibitionists are showing their stuff at the Skinny, but the guardians of public decency need not worry the former porn theater is reverting to its wicked ways. The Exhibitionists is the name of a group offemale artists from New York City whose work will be on display at the Congress Street nightclub until July 31.

Whether a painting done in menstrual blood titled "Christmas Tree" whips the moralists into a frenzy is another matter.

Founded by former Kennebunk resident Jen Laskey, a writer, the group of roughly 50 female artists includes women working in the visual arts as well as performers, writers and musicians. Eight members, including Laskey (who read her work during the show's July 6 opening), are contributing to this show.

Laskey said the group's name is intentionally provocative, eliciting its members' tendencies to bare hidden parts of themselves through their art, often in brazen ways. The Exhibitionists' "manifesto" states their beliefs that art happens both inside and outside gallery spaces; artists must take risks with their work; creative upheaval is a good thing; and artists should empower one another, not compete.

The works at the Skinny certainly take risks. They include prints by Nikki Johnson made of journals she kept while working in the phone-sex industry and suggestive photographs she took of Barbie doll legs. In addition to her bloody Christmas tree, Heather Weathers addresses taboos associated with women's bodies with "Ass Print Wallpaper," a black-ink print made by pressing ... well, you get the idea.

Other pieces include 16 self-portraits done by Fay Ku, showing a variety of her moody expressions rendered in different colors, and Christa Toole's "Take Two," an oil painting depicting two, bright-orange pills seemingly melting onto the flat canvas.

The Exhibitionists' show may be the first exhibit at the Skinny appealing to both artists and the confused former porn customers who still routinely wander into the space.