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Artist Protests Own Exhibit

Timothy Kincaid

July 14th, 2009

When John Paul Blanchette learned that Barnes and Noble in Framingham, MA, would display his artwork he was no doubt elated. It would, after all, be his first solo exhibition.

Then he heard that one of his paintings was “too offensive” and would not be shown.

“It’s so ridiculous that when I met with (the manager) it took a minute before I was like, ‘Oh, she’s actually serious,”‘ Blanchette said. “There are romance book covers in there that are more offensive.”

You see, the picture in question was of two blue women in their underwear. And they weren’t going to be having no lesbians at the Barnes and Noble.

So Blanchette and a few friends protested his own exhibition.

We’ve not heard Barnes and Noble’s side (I’m waiting for a response), but it doesn’t sound like they are denying it.

Margaret Moore, community relations manager at the store, would not say why she declined to display the 11th painting; however, she did say “it is up to the store’s discretion to decide what we show.”

Yup, and it’s up to my discretion where I buy books.



Richard W. Fitch
July 14th, 2009 | LINK

At least here in Indianapolis, many of the staff at B&N are members of the LGBT community. Is Framingham, MA still so provincial that they filter out all “alternative style” art?

July 14th, 2009 | LINK

Okay, the implication might be there, but it’s an incredibly weak one! They aren’t even kissing! There’s so many pictures of women in bikinis and underwear together out there already that don’t exactly scream lesbian either. Just because the title has love in it doesn’t mean it’s talking about sexual orientation. I really doubt anyone would have flinched if nothing was said and it was just put up there.

It’s Massachusetts for crying out loud..

July 14th, 2009 | LINK

This is very strange, considering Barnes & Noble is a gay-friendly corporation (offering health benefits and whatnot to gay couples).

July 14th, 2009 | LINK

Well it’s the decision of one franchise, so it wouldn’t necessarily reconcile with corporate.

July 14th, 2009 | LINK

That’s true, Burr. For all we know, this particular store might have a lot of conservative customers, who of course would rather complain than shop somewhere else.

July 14th, 2009 | LINK

After reading the comments from the original article, it seems that just the hint of a gay couple together is cause to protect ones children from exposure. In the painting, their bodies don’t even touch. Looks like gay panic strikes again. My biggest offense from this work is how badly it was painted.

July 15th, 2009 | LINK

I’m not seeing how that image was offensive in the least (with the exception of how truly hideous the women’s faces were painted). They’re in their underwear and they look like they’re about to hug. How is that offensive?

You can be sure that if it was a painting of two women in their underwear and they were about to do battle with spears or battle axes it wouldn’t have been so “offensive” to the store. I’ve seen far more explicit covers on romance novels and fantasy novels. The women on those are usually only a few steps away from sort core porn, but apparently images of women getting molested by hot guys or women in fur bikinis fighting vikings is more appropriate.


July 15th, 2009 | LINK

1. I’d say ban the entire show not because of the subject matter but because, judging from the painting in question, it’s horribly bad art.

2. If the artist really felt that strongly about it, he’d have pulled his works, rather than allow the “acceptable” ones to be displayed and protesting, generating more publicity for himself.

July 15th, 2009 | LINK

Yet B&N has its own lesbian/gay section in stores? Something doesn’t add up here.

July 19th, 2009 | LINK

He should have shown up at the opening with the forbidden painting printed on a T shirt. Maybe all of his friends could have worn them as well.

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