Museum for world famous artist in New Mexico faces some resistance

There’s talk of opening a museum in Belen for a world famous artist, who happens to live there.

However, there’s been some push back because of the nature of her art.

Judy Chicago considers herself a feminist artist. Her work has been viewed as controversial because a lot of it focuses on the female genitalia.

“We consider ourselves residents and citizens of the community of Belen, so this is our contribution back,” said Donald Woodman.

In the small city of Belen, you’ll find some big stars in the art world.

Woodman is a well-known photographer and his work is shown nationally.

His partner, Judy Chicago, was recently named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.

“We believe that art can be a very positive force,” said Chicago.

Some of Chicago’s well-known pieces have been considered controversial. She’s known to showcase intimate female body parts to advocate for feminist social causes.

Although Chicago’s work can be seen around the world, they call Belen home.

A few months ago, the city asked the pair if they would like to open a museum at the couple’s art space.

“And so we agreed to move forward as long as the city supported us,” said Chicago.

There’s been some resistance, however.

“Yeah, the city council did express some concern with the content of her prior pieces,” said Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova.

“In the past sometimes her art like any artist could be a little controversial,” said local Barb Jaramillo. “And I think that’s the beauty of it.”

“What’s important here is the freedom of expression to let all artists express themselves how they need to,” said Cordova.

The museum won’t focus on her controversial work.

“The museum would be biographical in nature so it would be a historical look at Judy’s life all the way through to today,” said Cordova.

People said the museum could help put Belen on the art map, but a couple of city councilors have reservations about it.

“We just want to try and make a cultural contribution to the community in which we live,” said Chicago.

The mayor hopes to convince the council to back the idea in November and vote on it by the end of the year. They hope to open the museum on Chicago’s 80th birthday next July.

The city would put $13,000 a year toward the museum for a part-time worker. That’s because Chicago already owns the building that would house the museum.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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