"Muldoon, you'd better come down to the gallery right away, there're about twenty cops hovering about and they need you to be here so they can arrest you!"
I was a little surprised at all the fuss. A simple, delicate act of love portrayed in small semi-abstract welded steel shouldn't cause all this consternation. And only yesterday Captain Barca of the San Francisco Police Department had been praising the tiny erotic sculptures to the hilt. Heh-heh, that's a pun. But it was true; the Captain had praised them up and down. "Isn't he marvelous!" he had said, "Look at the intricate way the sculptor created those tiny hands. It's a miracle that anyone can weld like that!" And then, lowering his arm and curving his index finger upward in a kind of hook-like gesture, rather gruffly to the delicate looking police photographer (who oddly enough if my memory serves me correctly was wearing liederhosen, an alpine yodeler's cap and rather strange looking toe-shoes) that he had brought along from God-knows-where, "Get down on your knees so you can shoot them looking up." It was hard to see the couples' one-quarter inch sexual anatomy clearly unless you laid down on the floor.
I had asked the Captain if he would tell me why he was photographing only the Kama Sutra section of Ron Boise's exhibition and not his wonderful full-sized standing figures or his completely abstract, marvelous, large, musical sculptures that so many musicians had come from far and wide to play, or the naked, androgynous, full-sized and full-breasted, take-off of spectacled Harry Truman with raised arm and pointing finger (made as a mockery of the Uncle Sam Wants You! Second World War posters in revenge for Truman's having made the decree that kept Boise on the miserable island of Guam for an extra two years beyond his tour of duty), but he said, "I'm not prepared to answer that question at this time!" However, when the big three hundred pound bruiser of a sergeant he had also brought along dropped a cigarette ash on our highly polished floor, the Captain had endeared himself to me by making the bruiser get down on his hands and knees to sweep it up. It was a surprisingly courtly response to my alarmed look as my eyes had followed the ash to its resting place on the floor.
"Can't you see how nice this place is?" cautioned Captain Barca, "Clean that up, we can't be making messes!" A face flushed and seams popped as the portly sergeant used one hand as a dustpan and the other as the broom. I expressed my appreciation in five different ways, so much so that as the Captain left, he took no more than ten steps out the door before he turned on his heel, came back and said, "You've been so nice that I'll tell you what we're doing. We think this sculpture may be obscene so we're going back to the District Attorney's office to study the pictures that we've just taken. If we determine that the sculptures are indeed obscene, then we will ask you to remove them and if you do not, we will issue a warrant for your arrest."
That was yesterday and now, without warning, they're here to arrest me?
My girlfriend Joy had called Roger Grimsby of Channel 7 News yesterday evening and told him that we were being harassed by the police for an art exhibition that had an amorous theme and perhaps he might want to send a cameraman down to the Vorpal Gallery so his viewers could see how tame the exhibition was and how silly it was to make such a big thing of it. Grimsby had told her sure, first thing in the morning.
So here it was, morning, and I'm told, "Muldoon, there are three paddy-wagons and five police cars in front of the gallery and the police are packing up all but the mildest two sculptures of the Kama Sutra part of the exhibition and incidentally, there are television cameramen filming the whole thing. Please come right down so that they arrest you and not me!"
The cameramen immediately start interviewing me as I step into the gallery, by this time with a little prepared speech to the effect of, "You see murder and horrible crime on television, smut on the news stands, the portrayal of violence accepted everywhere and yet they call it a crime to depict a simple act of tender love...." " Excuse me," says a soft-spoken policeman, "but you're under arrest." "I'm not finished," says I, and, to his consternation, on I go with my diatribe. Eventually they haul me away.
Thank God the A.C.L.U. defended me at the two-week trial since in 1964 I hardly had a penny to my name to pay for a lawyer and I doubt if the public defender would have been as eloquent as Ephriam Margolin and Marshall Krause were in that courtroom. You'll have to ask me about the trial sometime, it was a hoot.
© 2004__Muldoon Elder
Founder, The Vorpal Gallery
List of Illustrations:
Vrikshadhirudhakavb - Climbing a tree, 13" x 4.4" x 3"
Mixture of the Sesamum Seed With the Grain of Rice, 11" x 7" x 3.5"
Embrace of the Jaghana, 9" x 4" x 7.5"
Auparishtaka, 13" x 6.5" x 4.5"
Poster Protesting the Arrest
The Embrace of the Breasts with Lohopa-Jihirka, 9.6" x 6.5" x 4"
Municipal Courtroom - San Francisco