Region: North America
Medium: Sculpture Public Art
Artist: No specific artist or person. Sacramento City residents and the general public
Confronting Bodies: Parents attending the Advanced Training Institute International’s home schooling convention at the Sacramento Convention Center in early July 2000; Advanced Training Institute officials and administrators including the Institute’s director, Jim Voeller; The Sacramento convention bureau, specifically, its president Steve Hammond; Sacramento City officials
Date of Action: 2000
Location: Sacramento Convention Center, Sacramento, California USA
Description of Artwork: The statue in question is of a seven-foot tall, naked bronze statue of the Greek god Poseidon. It is a replica of a famous statue that appears in the National Archeological Museum in Athens. The Poseidon statue, which is displayed in a public park between the Sacrament Convention Center and a community theater, was a gift to the city from the government in Greece in 1972.
The Incident: Parents attending the Advanced Training Institute International’s home schooling convention at the Sacramento Convention Center in early July 2000 were bothered and offended by the nude statue of Poseidon. Expressing their objection to the seemingly harmless display of public nudity, the parents were given permission from city officials to clothe the statue during the three-day event. On day one they dressed him in a toga, on day two in a gold shirt and khaki trousers, and on day three in slacks, a dress shirt and a tie. Jim Voeller, director of the Advanced Training Institute said, "A lot of the parents would object to the display of public nudity. We didn't deface the statue, and we got permission to cover it for the conference." However, not all Sacramento residents were happy to see Poseidon dressed up, and during the conference, the clothing was repeatedly taken off the statue. Sacramento resident, Eric Ford, was caught removing Poseidon's pants by a conference official; he later said, "That statue is for the whole city, not for them. You don't go to a city and decide to change the city's artwork because you think it is not appropriate." As a form of protest, Ford and other city residents later removed the necktie from Poseidon and used it to blindfold the statue.
Results of Incident: City officials defended the decision to clothe Poseidon. Steve Hammond, president of the convention bureau, said the home schoolers had brought a lot of money to the city.
Source: The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression: http://www.tjcenter.org/past2001.html