Few local artists stood in the rain outside the Marblehead Arts Association today, debating a controversial portrait of Adolf Hitler hanging inside.
The painting by Gage Delprete of Marblehead is part of his exhibit on human character, both good and bad. It sparked a dispute -- and national attention -- when a local woman, whose parents survived the Holocaust, demanded that it be taken down.
"It crosses the line into prejudice," Susan Fader said. "It just isn't necessary."
Fader stood outside the MAA this morning, calling the portrait hurtful and insensitive. Another artist Ruth Rooks, who is Jewish, said the painting could be removed gracefully, out of respect to people who are deeply offended.
"It brings up so many hurtful feelings, feelings of anti-semitism," Rooks said. "The exhibit wouldn't lose any impact if that particular painting was removed."
Young artist Evan Foudray turned out to support the exhibit. "It's important to be open to all forms of expression," he said.
Rooks and Fourdray went on to have a positive discussion about the arts, anti-semitism and more while standing in the rain. They ended the conversation with a handshake.
Delprete said the Hitler portrait needs to be taken in context, along with his nine other paintings on display. The exhibit reflects his journey, he said, searching for role models -- both positive and negative. Other subjects include Gandhi, Superman, Jesus, Darth Vader and Bruce Lee.
The Marblehead Arts Association said it will not remove the painting. In a letter to members today, Director Deborah Greel wrote, "We have thoughtfully reviewed the exhibit in its greater context and continue to uphold our mission of advancing the arts in our community by providing artists with a venue for sharing their work."
She added, "We acknowledge that art is meant to enlighten, challenge, or stir one's emotions or thoughts, and that viewers will experience artwork in different ways. Though an image of Hitler may evoke strong emotions, in the context of this exhibit, it is a portrait of an historic figure."