SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- A critically acclaimed exhibit of Aphrodite opened to great fanfare at the San Antonio Museum of Art in September. But controversy is brewing over one of the exhibit's featured statuettes.
The museum tried to spread the word about this rare exhibit, so it put together an advertisement for Aphrodite.
The San Antonio Current, San Antonio Magazine, San Antonio Jewish Journal and San Antonio Business Journal didn't blanch whatsoever, and ran the ad.
But, others blushed...and censored it.
"Our visitors think this show is incredible," said SAMA director, Dr. Katie Luber.
SAMA takes great pride in its new Aphrodite exhibit. It is especially proud of a 2,000-year-old statuette of the Greek goddess emerging from the sea. But, it never really fathomed the controversy stirred by the ancient sculpture.
"The human body still incites a lot of feelings, whether they are love or delight, or anxiety," said Luber.
Although the statuette had a featured spot in the museum's advertisement campaign, three clients said no to the sculpture, including the San Antonio International Airport.
"Whether it's public art or advertising, we don't authorize anything that portrays nudity or violence," stated airport spokesperson Rich Johnson by way of email.
But others look at it differently.
"We see naked people on TV all the time these day, and she is not a naked person. I see art," Luber says. "This is art. This is not pornography."
"I guess everyone has the right to their opinion, but these have been hallmarks of civilization for centuries, and, I think, in that regard, we need to keep an open mind," said SAMA visitor, Diane Temple.
In the spirit of tolerance for a conflicting viewpoint, the museum opted to replace the original unclothed Aphrodite at the airport for a different image. Luber views this flap as an opportunity that underscores the enduring power of Aphrodite.
"I think it actually is kind of a wonderful spotlight on the show -- that it did incite such great feelings of passion and anxiety," Luber pointed out.
SAMA was not able to release the names of the other two businesses that rejected Aphrodite, but they did say one was a local magazine.
The Aphrodite exhibit runs through February 17, 2013 at the San Antonio Museum of Art, located downtown at 200 W. Jones.
The San Antonio Museum of Art is open Tuesdays through Sundays, and is closed on Mondays. Admission is free on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon.