NSFW nude art show opens with work from nearly 40 artists

{9} The Gallery prepares for the First Friday opening of the "NSFW" exhibit, which features work from over 40 artists. (Craig Johnson/DD)

The “NSFW” show opening First Friday at {9} The Gallery on Grand Avenue was curated to bring a new light to the art of nudity and nude art.

“Expect nudity. It’s a nude show, but it’s not erotica,” said Laura Dragon, owner of {9} The Gallery. “It’s about the expression of the nude subject. The subtlety of it is quite beautiful, and it takes a lot of technique to create something that has that kind of magnetism to it.”

Tara Sharpe, director of Artelshow, collaborated with Dragon to review more than 150 submissions of art. The show will comprise mainly paintings but will also feature photos and sculptures from the 38 chosen artists.

Dragon and Sharpe wanted to stay true to the meaning of “Not Safe/Suitable For Work” when choosing pieces for this show — so much so that there will be a piece of artwork by Eric Cox displayed that led to the artist getting kicked off of Facebook for a week.

The idea for the show arose from Dragon brainstorming with colleagues about what to do for the season, saying that things in the art community start to slow down in the summer months.

Dragon said she wanted a show that displays unique forms of nude art that “are explicit and have a fine art quality about them.”

“We didn’t want to miss any aspect,” Dragon said about the different pieces in the show. “There’s diversity, gender, race, all encompassing the body of work.”

Paul Wilson, one of the artists participating in the show, has been creating various forms of art using John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald as his muse. For “NSFW” he created a piece that he said “is downright raw and vulgar.” Wilson said it didn’t matter whether people know who Oswald was, because questions about the piece will still arise.

“I would be delighted if someone did buy it and put it in their bathroom,” Wilson said.

Beth Tom will also display work at the show. The purpose of her piece was to put a male subject in the perspective of how women are usually posed in nude art, Tom said.

“It’s a political piece that shows a man in a new perspective,” she said.

Both Wilson and Tom had said that they like to show a new perspective through their artwork, which they believe has the potential to receive both positive and negative feedback from the audience.

Because the show has so many artists and pieces of work, the show will be open for the whole month of May, Dragon said.

“Come support local artists and galleries. It’s well worth the trip to Grand Avenue on a Friday night to get a strong feel for art,” she said.

“NSFW” opens Friday from 6-10 p.m. There will be an artist’s reception on Friday, May 20 from 6-10 p.m. The show will be on display until May 28.

Contact the reporter at rsavitz@asu.edu.