Controversial 'Buy Sexual' art piece to remain on display at county building in Santa Maria

Sep 18, 2015

A controversial piece of art at a county building in Santa Maria will remain on public display, but will no longer be in its original location.

"Buy Sexual" - by Californian Artist Steve Olson. Olson is a Californian Artist, Sculptor and Skateboarder.
Credit PR Newswire

The Santa Barbara County Arts Commission said Thursday, the piece titled "Buy Sexual" has been moved to a less prominent spot within the Betteravia Government Center.

Supervisor Peter Adam had the piece by artist Steve Olson taken down last week against county protocol. It was later put back on display.

The exhibition is scheduled to run through mid January.

Adams and his Chief of Staff Bob Nelson said Friday, they're "disappointed with the Commission's choice" and said the Center is not a "suitable venue for the work."

Olson says he's not bothered by the controversy.

"Well it's about what I'd expect in today's climate of knee-jerk reactions," Olson said in a statement.  "I'd prefer the art to provoke thought about the world we live in – The piece is commentary on how sex sells – everything from cars and Instagram 'likes' to news and clothing. The fact that it's a play on words probably went right over his head."

Ginny Brush is the County Arts Commission Executive Director and said Friday that the public has voiced support for the piece at Thursday's public meeting.

"I would say 90 to 95 percent were there to say they that wanted the piece to stay up and that they were really concerned about censorship or violation of freedom of speech," said Brush.

Ironically, all of the attention over the Buy Sexual piece is making the exhibit more popular than ever.

The LOVE + GUTS collection is by a group of skateboarding artists from Southern and Central California.

There is an opening reception on September 19 at the Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Center from 5-9:00 p.m. Earlier in the day, many of the artists will be participating in a "Super Skate Session" at the SLO Skate Park from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.