A big decision is being made in Belen, New Mexico. Its mayor, Jerah Cordova, wants a seat at the table; however, local star artist Judy Chicago
’s distinctive place settings are stirring up a controversy.
Former mayor and current city council member Ronnie Torres suggested that Chicago open a museum in the town of 7,000 that has been her adopted home for 26 years. Mayor Cordova offered to donate his roughly $10,000 part-time salary to get the project off the ground, but locals are objecting in droves.
“If Judy Chicago wants to be successful in a museum, well bless her little heart,” John K. Thompson, a retired stockbroker who was one of the residents who spoke in opposition to the project at a recent city council meeting in Belen, said, according to The New York Times
. “A lot of her art is very sexual, more fitting for some liberal city far from here.”
Chicago’s best-known work, The Dinner Party
(1974–79), is largely responsible for offending the sensibilities of a vociferous evangelical population in Belen. Working with the town “has been very painful,” Chicago said. So, she’s struck out on her own and established a Go Fund Me
campaign through her nonprofit Through the Flower.
“There’s a lot of her art that’s absolutely wonderful and there’s some of it that’s a little provocative,” Cordova told the Times. “That’s what makes her art great, and why this museum is needed in our town.”