Gaea Returned Home <3


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Well, if you have not heard yet; Gaea was returned back to her home in front of Brigid’s Cross in downtown Bemidji on July 6th, 2010 that night. I have been so busy after I returned from Florida and this is the first moment I have had to even post an update. I apologize. I will post some photos and I was given permission to post these photos. However, I asked a while ago and I cannot remember specific names for each photo. They have been made possible by Deborah Davis, Cate Belleveau, and Christina Thorne. I am sure there are a couple more such as from Linda Brown. Thank you all.

I unfortunately was unable to attend the city council meeting but the outcome of supporters that attended was around 80 people in support of returning Gaea. The update I received was that they discussed as to why it was deemed inappropriate to be displayed by one city council member and then another city council member argued that the complaints she had heard; is not what she saw when viewing Gaea!  That week was one of the most intense and most rewarding feelings ever I have felt in my life. We had designated people to speak and discuss why we were against the decision of John Chattin and why we felt Gaea should be returned! It was put in motion and seconded that Gaea be returned. What a happy day for Deborah Davis and ALL artists who walked with her in support and fought in protest against the unfair removal of Gaea.

After all the mayhem started we started shrouding our sculptures to protest the removal of Gaea. We were all quite upset. It made papers and numerous news stations. On July 4th, we had someone stand up in Gaea’s spot painted with Georgia O’keefe art on his body. It drew a lot of attention and most definitely helped get our point across.

I am just so happy and pleased that Gaea has been returned home. I have had people come up to me and ask if I was indeed the one who started blogging about it and have had several people thank me for fighting along with it. I have no decided what my next tattoo is going to be and where it is going to go. I will share later. After all of this mess and even after our happy ending—I still feel strongly about art censorship and I am really considering becoming an activist in regards to this. I love all of my fellow artists and our artist community. We are so blessed to have such a great community in Bemidji. I just want to give a big thanks to Al and Cate Belleveau for all the hard work they have done in keeping the arts alive and organizing the sculpture walk along with many other artistic things made possible because two people care and understand the importance of Art.

Thank you to all who fought and supported Deborah Davis and Gaea through out this protest and fight! It is greatly appreciated by all!

Sincerely,

LOVE & PEACE FRIENDSHIPS!

Shanna Mae

Fact vs. Fiction


“The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.” – Oscar Wilde

Bemidji Beaver Sculpture Painting Project 2010

Catie Belleveau wrote a grant to the George W. Neilson foundation which purchased the 10 fiberglass beavers.  It was made possible by Catie. The Beaver blank was chosen for the project by a vote of the COMMUNITY SURVEY that was promoted by the local media.

Today I received an email regarding this controversy and terrible travesty we are dealing with. Being mocked for this entire thing. I was told that instead of defining “”pornographic””– I should have defined “”beavers””. Firstly, the beaver image was chosen by a community survey and not to mention our university–Bemidji State University mascot is a Beaver. We are the BSU Beavers.

The writer of this email suggests that the beaver blank is already pornographic by the definition of “beaver” and even more so by putting the Mother Earth Goddess on as “”art”” (all words in quotes are quoted as seen by writer) .  Our city of Bemidji has a college mascot of a beaver, a local sports bar was named the Toasty Beaver’s and was named by a teenager for cheersing to our Beaver’s (our athletes of the BSU Beaver Athletic Teams), can I ask what is wrong with having a beaver blank for a sculpture walk and then deeming it “pornographic” and removing it? What is wrong with naming a bar with such. We support our college athletics. Yes, people will snicker at the thought of a beaver, or a name of a bar. Let them. That is not the sole issue or why we are dealing with this I don’t think. Some people just don’t like what they see and don’t really try and see the entire picture instead of where ever their mind is at that time. Not all people see beauty, true beauty, true art. Some are too narrow minded. I feel pity for those who cannot see how beautiful Gaea is. I feel bad for anyone who cannot see more than whats in front of them. Try feeling. Try seeing. Try hearing.

What I thought was funny after reading the article on the Star Tribune site was one city council member who was female did NOT feel offended and NOR did she feel that it was supposed to resemble a pornographic image. But the other city council member who was male saw something pornographic. Regardless, it is NOT right to remove a sculpture because there was 20 complaints. 20?? Seriously, to remove without a second thought….. to make such a drastic decision as such but to then give an option to modify the piece. I didn’t know that 20 people counted for a city with at least 11,000 people population. Why? I see nothing wrong with it. I showed a ton of people today who had NO knowledge of this current travesty and they kept asking me what was obscene about it? What was pornographic?  That is exactly my point. Art is meant to be interpreted how ever that viewer wants to see it. You can depict anything from a piece of art. But only that artist knows truly what she/he was feeling at that EXACT moment when that piece was created. There should be no censorship. It is not graphic or pornographic, nor obscene, nor inappropriate.

This is a serious matter. I could care less what the definition of “beaver” is. We are the BSU beavers. Amazing artists, with amazing talents were chosen to design these and paint them.

More information regarding the grant funded project may be found at: http://thisismytownbemidji.com/?p=318

Also, if you haven’t yet had a chance– please swing by the poll on the Pioneer link:

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bemidjipioneer.com%2Fevent%2Farticle%2Fid%2F100020072%2F&h=27f56sfchqRIdo6yUDb5qDK0srA

In order to vote:

You can log in with facebook but you must then create an account for free and after it sends an email that you have to click and verify it. Once you have verified your email; log in with username and password and then vote.

Love, Peace, and Friendship.

Shanna Mae

Let’s bring Gaea back to the Sculpture Walk. Good night.

Gaea and the Star Tribune


There is a featured article in the Star Tribune. The following web address will link you to the article. http://www.startribune.com/local/97769749.html?page=1&c=y I will be posting later regarding an email I have received and my thoughts on some of the information provided in both. I am so upset about this whole event! My thoughts, prayers and support go to Deborah Davis, the artist.
Artists band together, we stand here united, ready to fight for our rights. Band the John Chattins decision. If I weren’t on the road, I’d be saying a lot more!!

Love, peace and friendship.

Shanna Mae

Ps. Just was informed that some one removed the cloak from my sculpture! How disrespectful!

Gaea Goddess of Earth and also meaning God is Gracious


I have been busy this morning. I tried to contact the Star Tribune News line and didn’t get through but have seen that Deborah is waiting to speak with them.

The Pioneer has also had a article today in the paper. I will post the link! It has been so misunderstood and why should the artist be asked to change a thing?! I have spoken to Bill Batchelder from the Woolen Mills and he would love to house that beautiful Gaea Beaver in his historical commemorative lot. It is private property and no one can do a thing about it.

I have also been trying to contact or get in touch with someone who would have room on their float for the parade in Bemidji tomorrow.

Please contact me via email if you have any information or know of anyone willing. shanna.olsen@live.com

I will post more as I know more.
Some links regarding censorship. Please check them out.

http://www.advocacyagainstcensorship.com/bannedbks/censorart.html

Help us report this! Fight Censorship!
http://www.ncac.org/fight-censorship

Front Page of the Bemidji Pioneer
http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/event/article/id/100020065

What makes me even more angry is I asked someone to look at it and tell me what was obscene about it. They saw nothing. They didn’t understand what was so obscene about it.

I will post more later. I have a few things I must do before work!

PLEASE BAND TOGETHER AND SUPPORT THE ARTS AND ARTISTS WHO ARE VICTIMS OF CENSORSHIP! HELP US FIGHT!

Bring Gaea back to the Bemidji Sculpture Walk


An artist is someone who sees and feels reality very intensely. Creativity doesn’t mean just making things up out of thin air. It means seeing and feeling the world so vividly that you can put together connections and patterns that help to explain reality. It means you see the beauty in the world rather than trying to hide from it.-Danny Gregory

I have found this quote in the book by Danny Gregory; The Creative Life. This quote is incredibly true. I am just udderly disgusted by the city council and John Chattin’s decision to remove Deborah Davis’s Beaver from the Sculpture walk.

First of all, how is it obscene? There is nothing pornographic about it. It doesn’t create arousal. The image that is colorful on the front is very abstract. I wish I was going to be here for the city council meeting on July 6th. I am definitely writing a letter to everyone that I can that might be able to help get Gaea back on her pedestal in the sculpture walk.

If you have read my previous blog post you will see that the story behind her reasoning of her design is strongly related to mother earth and also has a tie between the oil spill. How disturbing that some people can be so ignorant and sick minded to see something of that sort first. It wasn’t even complained about by the public. It was the cities decision. TERRIBLE!

http://www.facebook.com/deborahadavis?v=wall&story_fbid=1474416270679#!/pages/Bring-back-Gaea-to-the-Bemidji-Sculpture-Walk/125993044109092?ref=mf

Love, Peace & Friendship.

Shanna Mae

Art Censorship?


Tonight, I was surfing my facebook in between things to do and a cigarette break and I came across a very disturbing status update by one of my dear artist friends here in Bemidji. She was informed today that her Beaver that she designed for the Bemidji Sculpture Walk Beaver Project was being removed because it was obscene and pornographic.

Last year, where my sculpture now sits was a beautiful sculpture that was molded of a males nude body. There was not fuss raised and it was not removed.  Firstly, I will post the story behind Deborah Davis’s Beaver she designed and put all of her hard work into.

Name: Gaea
by Deborah A Davis
Gaea means Mother Earth and God is Gracious

That the fertile earth itself is female, nurturing mankind is a belief that crosses culture, time and borders. Gaea means Mother Earth. It also means “God is Gracious,” and is one of the 52 feminine aspects of God in the Christian Bible. Gaea in mythology was a female Titan. If we could embrace the strength of womaness, celebrate it, we would become the people we are meant to be: nuturing, loving, whole.

On a side note: While painting this, the gulf oil disaster occurred… and I couldn’t help thinking, if we could incorporate this… become less gluttoness and more sacrificial, the world would be more like the home it is meant to be for us and our children.

Photos by Amy Borden Nelson

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I am not the one who has taken these photos. But, they are now the ones that I am using due to the pure and simple fact that the Beaver has been removed and is no longer up for photographing. I am utterly disgusted with the fact that the city has removed this Beaver. No art should be censored. That is why it is art. And why when it is regarding mother nature. I think that the artist story tells the entire piece and when I view the Beaver I could view the story that she has wrote. I became one with her piece.

If you are an artist or a citizen who is against this unfair decision and movement by the city council it is best to follow the below information that I have copy and pasted that I received in an email from the artist herself. I strongly urge whether you are a citizen of this city or even an artist in another area who is against art censorship to please voice your concerns.

A letter or email would be most effective to John Chatin at city hall 317 4th Street NW Bemidji. 759-3565 City attorney: Al Felix at same address 759-3575 A letter to The Pioneer (1320 Neilson Ave SE Bemidji) would also be beneficial, perhaps other organizations who help us stand for our rights and inform the public. We have had bare penis in sculpture(Mitch Blessings wonderful piece all last year for instance), but this is not the first time female ones have been removed or rejected. There’s something decidedly strange, unbalanced and wrong about this. Gaea was subtle, feminine, colorful, and well responded to by the majority. But a few sexist/and or vengeful folk with other than pure motives have made this celebration of the female aspect of diety and earth deemed pornographic. vengeful folk with other than pure motives have made this celebration of the female aspect of diety and earth as obscene.

I have also copy and pasted the merriam dictionary definition of the word pornographic.

Main Entry: por·nog·ra·phy

Pronunciation: \-fē\

Function: noun

Etymology: Greek pornographos, adjective, writing about prostitutes, from pornē prostitute + grapheinto write; akin to Greek pernanai to sell, porosjourney — more at farecarve

Date: 1858

1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
2 : material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement
3 : the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction <the pornography of violence

http://www.merriam-webster.com/netdict/pornographic

I spoke with John Chattin myself this morning. He wished to give no information and stated it was his decision to deem it inappropriate. He said that he made the decision himself and when I asked if it was only him who held the decision he stated that “we” talked about it. I questioned him as to who “we” was. I asked if it was the city council and he stated that they were his boss.  I asked for information on what they felt was inappropriate of it and he wished to give no information and stated that we could attend the city council meeting in Bemidji on July 6th at 7:00 pm.

Please if anyone knows how to go about handling this or what organizations will help artists stand up for their rights; please send me an email with the information at shanna.olsen@live.com. This is a terrible thing. No art should be censored.

Even if you are an artist and do not live in the area and are very upset about this: please write the Bemidji Pioneer or write a letter to the city council. The information with addresses or fax numbers was listed above.

Thank you so much. What a terrible tragedy.

Love, Peace and Friendship.

Shanna Mae

NOTE EDITED:

Anyone who would like to send an email that is not going to be able to be present for the city council meeting; Please do so. But please keep in mind to remain calm while writing the email. It is often so easy to get upset and frustrated and act on those emotions only later to result in a bigger mess or not getting to say things clear and concise. Please take the time to put in your voiced concern. We need all the help we can get! I would like to know if organizations that may be able to assist us with this.
John Chattin
jchattin@ci.bemidji.mn.us
Al Felix
alanfelix@ci.bemidji.mn.us
Also if you are on Facebook; please join this group to bring Gaea back to our sculpture walk!