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PRINT September 1992

ART WARS

John Ahearn

ON APRIL 23, 1992, the New York Post, that crusading tabloid founded by Alexander Hamilton, ran a half-page article under the headline “City Pays 100G for Art Blasted as Anti-Black.” The art in question was a group of three sculptures by “internationally renowned Bronx artist John Ahearn,” which were to stand next to a new police station in the South Bronx.

“‘We were stunned,’ said a top Bronx cop. ‘We spend so much time trying to work with the community, and that artwork is so clearly racial stereotyping. The message the art would have sent was, at the very least, insensitive. At most, it could have caused a riot. The pieces were unbelievable.’”

“Unbelievable”? You’d think Ahearn had stuck a nightstick up his ass or floated Kojak in piss.“Unbelievable”? The sculptures are life casts Ahearn made of real people and a real dog from the community he lives in. “Unbelievable” is an odd choice of

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