Porn-Themed Exhibition at LES Gallery Gets Under Neighbors’ Skins

03/14/2011 2:51 PM |

Panni Malekzadehs Hearts and Rainbows (detail), one of Pornucopias least explicit pieces.
  • Panni Malekzadeh’s “Hearts and Rainbows” (detail), one of Pornucopia’s least explicit pieces.

Allegra LaViola’s self-named Lower East Side gallery has a very enjoyable, very provocative exhibition of art inspired by and incorporating porn, Pornucopia, on view through Friday (after… extending), and though the most graphic pieces are far from the front windows—where Josh Atlas‘s buckets of donuts are the main feature—it hasn’t gone over well with the local community of Orthodox Jews.

Gallery-owner Allegra LaViola tells ArtInfo that since an upset rabbi attended the February 7 opening she’s had repeated visits from the police, including three in the past two weeks. One of those came last Sunday, when LaViola tweeted: “The police are here again! Guess my neighbors are really annoyed by the pussy in the window, eh?” And a few minutes later: “Wonderful. Now the Rabbis are after me to cover the windows.”

She then solicited suggestions: “VOTE: Should I cover the windows to not offend the Rabbis?” And concluded, exasperated:

it isn’t my job to be sensitive to the community- it’s my job to put on the best shows I can. blindfold the kids and leave me the hell alone

LaViola tells ArtInfo that the NYPD officers called to the gallery on allegations of obscenity “have been quite supportive,” and that she deliberately organized the show with tamer works near the front: “I didn’t want anyone who came up to the window to see a giant ejaculating penis.” Neighbors from the local Orthodox community are especially peeved due to the gallery’s location down the block from a boys’ Yeshiva—although those kids probably don’t mind.

Controversy notwithstanding, it’s an excellent exhibition, with pieces by the late Stephen Irwin, collages by Duncan Hannah, idyllic nudes by Alison Blickle, an epic mid-coital statue by Will Kurtz, creepy fairy tale compositions by Panni Malekzadeh (at top) and dazzling mashup canvases by Kara Maria, among others. Catch it before it comes down on Friday.