The door handles to the entrance of the Evan Lurie Gallery of Fine Art, which incorporate small-scale sculptures of nude men, have attracted the ire of the Concerned Mothers in Carmel.
This is the same group that protested the Victoria’s Secret window displays in Carmel’s Clay Terrace Mall, claiming that such displays promote promiscuity in young people. The store recently changed the window display, dressing their mannequins up in pajamas instead of skimpy lingerie. Victoria’s Secret officials have not said publicly whether they changed the displays in response to the controversy.
On Dec. 3, the women’s group brought their concerns to the Carmel City Council, claiming that both the door handles and the mannequins (even in pajamas) are in violation of Carmel’s decency code.
The spokeswomen of the mothers’ group declined comment.
The artist who fashioned the figurines, Theodore T. Gall, was surprised to hear his work mentioned in the same context as the window displays. “They have nothing to do with each other,” he said. Gall, who lives in Ojai, Calif., was unaware of the controversy until he was contacted for this article.
“That’s the thing about public art,” he said. “I don’t even attempt to try for public pieces anymore because of the criticism you run into.”
The stainless steel door handles were commissioned during the design phase of the Lurie building. Lurie has exhibited Gall’s work in his galleries for around 10 years, and Gall’s sculptures are currently on display in the Carmel gallery. Some of these sculptures show “men involved with machinery, using wheels to get around.”
He fashions figures in the nude, because, Gall says, this is what sculptors do. “You could put a bar on the door if that’s all you want but [Lurie] was looking for something unique. It’s strictly an extension of what’s carried on the inside.
“They’re simply door handles,” Gall said. “I think it would be more upsetting if you put a bronze fig leaf on each one of the figures.”"