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The word “erotic” is powerful. It carries with it a mixed bag of meanings and connotations including sex, lust, beauty, taboo, desire, morality and danger. It rides the fence between oh-so-good and oh-so-bad, and excites our senses in a way that nothing else can. While what each of us finds erotic varies (greatly for some), we can all agree that we know it when we see it and that it turns us on. With such rich potential for inspiration and interpretation, it is the perfect subject matter for an art show.

On the evening of June 9th, The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco’s Tenderloin (coincidentally one of the city’s most sex-oriented districts) opened it’s doors for the opening reception of their 3rd Annual Erotic Show. As we arrived, outside the crowd of attendees had overflown out onto the sidewalk. Inside, people sipped beverages, mingled and stared at the provocative work of over 50 artists (for a complete list visit the gallery’s website), most of which was created specifically for this show.

I myself have never really been into “erotic art” per se. I like erotic imagery and I like art but the two rarely mesh into an aesthetic that I am drawn to. Maybe it’s the bad 80’s aesthetic (no, it wasn’t all good if you can believe it) that I associate the genre with, or maybe I just haven’t been exposed to the right artist. Obviously, I am not an art critic, just an attendee of the show hoping to see a fresh take on the subject.

Inside, the gallery space was packed with attendees and viewing the work became a game of crowd dodging. Despite the sometimes difficult viewing angles, I was impressed by what I saw, particularly the work of one artist who’s life-size anime woman complete with a cherry and banana and wearing a pink jumpsuit seemed to be the centerpiece of the collection.

Another intriguing piece was tucked away in the corner on the ground. It was a video of a couple having sex projected on the surface of a miniature bed (approximately 16″ x 12″). It sounds simple but the voyeuristic effect created as you stare down at these tiny people uninhibited in their most intimate moment was amazing.

I definitely enjoyed The Shooting Gallery’s 3rd Annual Erotic Show. They compiled some great work by some talented artists. At the same time, I left feeling like there could have been a little wider interpretation of what we find erotic. Isn’t it more than just tits and ass? When looking at an image, subtlety and suggestion have the potential to be even more erotic than a blatant depiction, at least last time I checked.

If you happen to be in the neigborhood, be sure to check out the show. If you can’t make it, many more images of the opening and artwork (and price list) can be found on The Shooting Gallery website. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the opening of their sister gallery next door called White Walls.

The Shooting Gallery’s 3rd Annual Erotic Show
Sponsored by Fernet Branca
Date: June 9 – July 6, 2005
Place: The Shooting Gallery
Address: 839 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

Text and Photos: Mark Buswell from SisuHome

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