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Misunderstanding over art show leads to hard feelings

The artist claims censorship. A coordinator says he missed a deadline.

By CRISTINA SILVA, Times Staff Writer
Published November 15, 2007


Amel Samuels, 24, kneels by some of his paintings he planned to show at the Don Vista Cultural Arts Center in St. Pete Beach tonight. On Monday, he was told he missed the application deadline for the show, but Samuels says he was censored because his paintings depict nudity.
photo
[Lara Cerri | Times]
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ST. PETE BEACH - A St. Petersburg art student says he was banned from showing his work in a city-operated gallery because his paintings depict the naked human form.

But St. Pete Beach arts coordinator Nancy Doyal said the artist, Amel Samuels, can only blame himself for failing to fill out the reservation paperwork and pay the rental fee.

"None of his art is offensive to anyone here," she said in an interview Wednesday. "It's not even that much nudity. He is airbrushing nude aliens."

Samuels, 24, found out Monday that the art show he had planned at the Don Vista Cultural Arts Center for tonight would have to be relocated.

Samuels booked the space in September. In the weeks leading up to what he thought would be his big break into the Tampa Bay art world, he prepared for the event. He invited three of his young artist friends to show their work. He purchased boxes of wine and beer and alerted the masses on myspace.com about his show. More than 100 people sent in their RSVP.

But on Monday, three days before the show, he found out there was one little detail he had forgotten to work out. The deadline to fill out the rental agreement had passed more than a week earlier, and he hadn't turned in the proper paperwork.

Samuels blamed Doyal for censoring him because others in the community couldn't handle his nude paintings.

"She could have helped us out, but she chose for some reason not to let us do this because of one little mistake," he said.

Doyal said she warned Samuels that he needed to turn in the paperwork before the show. He never paid the rental fee, she said.

It's a mistake that can be chalked up to an error of youth, said Rebecca Skelton, an artist who has had her nude art displayed at the Don Vista.

"When I was that age, and I don't want to say 'oh he is just kid,' but I thought my stuff was the best thing in the world, and I couldn't understand why people weren't knocking each other over to buy it," she said. "Artists are very thin-skinned, and they tend to take things as insults and verbal assaults when it isn't meant that way."

Samuels has tried to move on. He attempted to book space at the Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa, but said the hotel wanted to charge too high a price. They told him Doyal had complained about his art, he said. Doyal denied contacting the hotel, and hotel officials did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

Samuels ended up reserving a room at the TravelLodge Hotel in St. Pete Beach.

"We are going to lose 75 percent of the people who were going to come because they are going to get lost," he said. "It's kind of like we choose to be creative, and we choose to be positive instead of do drugs or have babies at ridiculously young ages, and then we have this lady who pretty much has a snooty attitude because we're young."

Samuels' next show will be in January at a warehouse owned by a friend of a friend.

He has already confirmed the reservation.

Cristina Silva can be reached at 727 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.

[Last modified November 14, 2007, 23:40:46]


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