The late John Wayne Gacy
had an will have an art show in Las Vegas last month in September. Given the chance to see it, if it were held here, would you go?
Gacy, who is infamous for his horrific murders during the ’70s, started painting and drawing after he was imprisoned, and created works until just days before his death by lethal injection in 1994. Drawn to clowns, Gacy painted images of clowns he liked, the clown he himself portrayed, and children's characters like Snow White's seven dwarves from the Disney movie.
After Gacy's death, much of the work was auctioned off. A large portion was bought and promptly destroyed. But some of what was saved
was displayed will be displayed at Las Vegas' Sin City Gallery Arts Factory in a 70-piece exhibition that included audiotape, "memorabilia" and other Gacy items. According to the exhibition website, this is the first show of its kind approved by the Gacy estate.
Naturally, the arts community is in an uproar, but more for the fundraising aspect of the show. According the Las Vegas Weekly,
Sin City organizers planned to donate proceeds from the show to a national victims-advocacy organization. However, the organization says it had no idea such a deal was made, and furthermore, would accept no donations. Organizers planned to have the show go to another Las Vegas gallery in September, but the gallery canceled the show. The entire enterprise turned into a messy imbroglio, with staff members resigning, protests and bloated arguments about art's mission to provoke. Now that the show has closed, There's been little coverage as to what's been sold or what will happen next, except for this editorial piece from Canada's National Post.
As for Gacy's work, it is, in a vacuum, fairly uncompelling, marked by the touch of a hobbyist. His subjects vary wildly, from portraits of Elvis and Charles Manson to dreary landscapes and chilling skulls. When seen in context with Gacy himself, they become deeply disturbing. Is that enough to build an art show upon?
Click here to see the collection.