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Controversy over Lower East Side art exhibit

March 13, 2012 2:40:54 PM PDT
A Lower East Side art gallery is being criticized for an exhibit featuring photos of naked women right across the street from an elementary school, but its owner is defending the controversial display.

"We're not dealing with pornography here. These are breasts - every woman has them,'' said Dino Eli, owner of the Dino Eli Gallery, where the works are on display in its front window. "When I put these up, I found them very creative."

That's one reason Eli says he can't understand all the hoopla over the photo exhibit. Along with some provocative commentary, it features artist Lea Jeffire in varying stages of nudity.

"There's nothing that's being done here at the Dino Eli gallery that hasn't been done in the history of art," said Eli.

But critics argue it shouldn't be done across the street from an elementary school.

"Definitely not appropriate not on the corner of a school zone," said Halson Eng, a parent.

Parents and school officials have expressed concerns over the exhibit, and some have even called it "obscene."

But not everyone is offended.

"I don't mind explicit art", says Cathy Ho, the mother of two young children. "It's just not really to my taste. but I can understand if I had kids at this school, maybe I wouldn't want them to be exposed to it. It's not so much the matter of the content. It's just not very good."

Eli has reached a compromise with the school: he lowers the metal gates as students arrive in the morning, and then again as they leave in the afternoon. But for some parents, that doesn't go far enough.

"I think he should just actually take it down and put something totally different," said Shanae Brooks, a parent.

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