Sweet Jesus A Reaction to a Stolen Water Bottle

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Date: 2004 - 2005

Region: North America

Subject: Religious

Medium: Painting


Artist: Joshua Camozzi Milligan

Confronting Bodies: Various Portland, Oregon exhibition spaces: Medicine Hat Gallery on Alberta Street, Caffe Scozia, a coffee shop on East Burnside street, Optic Nerve, a tattoo parlor and gallery on Alberta Street.

Dates of Action: 2004/2005

Location: Portland, Oregon

Description of Artwork: Surreal/psychadelic representation of Jesus. http://www.swirlybits.com/visualbits/newbodyofworkhtmlbits/lam%20bits%20html/sweet-jesus.html

The Incident: When Milligan was asked to be part of a show produced by 2 Gyrlz Performative Arts, to be held at the now-defunct Medicine Hat Gallery on Alberta Street, in a racially and economically mixed neighborhood experiencing change and strain, he submitted the Jesus painting for the show. Citing concern that members of a local church would be offended and try to block the Medicine Hat's pending liquor license, the Medicine Hat asked him to leave the piece out of the exhibit.

Milligans second attempt unfolded similarly. Caffe Scozia, a coffee shop on East Burnside street in Portland, requested he not hang his psychedelic Jesus on the grounds that several nuns from a nearby abbey were regular customers.

Optic Nerve, a tattoo parlor and gallery on Alberta Street, commissioned a show of Milligan's works. They wanted something edgy, something that would give observers pause. When Milligan brought in Sweet Jesus..., it was rejected as being too tame and not controversial enough.

Results of Incident: The Red and Black Café, a worker-owned cooperative coffeehouse in Southeast Portland, allowed him to show the painting.

Source: 2 Gyrlz Quarterly/2GQ No. 3, Portland, Oregon: 2005, pp. 34-38.