Phyllis Yes’ Nude Paintings Will Show in Portland After All

Real estate development firm SKB offered Yes a venue for free after she brought a copy of Willamette Week to the office.

Phillis Yes (Courtesy of Phillis Yes)

If God closed a door on Phyllis Yes, he left some choice windows open.

As previously reported by WW, the acclaimed artist was set to debut Dusty…at Home—a series of paintings based on nude photos she took more than 50 years ago of a man named Dusty Moore doing household chores stark naked—at downtown Portland’s First Congregational Church. But on May 28, one week before the show’s planned premiere, FCC’s the Rev. Derek Austin emailed Yes asking her to hang a different set of work, even though church members invited Yes to exhibit those very paintings.

Yes chose to move her art rather than hang censored versions of her paintings, which comment on social gender roles and the history of nudity in art.

On May 30, Yes was walking and noticed an empty space in the Water Tower on South Macadam Avenue. She inquired about the space and was connected with a representative from SKB. " I told her of my predicament,” Yes tells WW. “She wanted to know more about it so I walked over with a Willamette Week copy in hand.” SKB agreed to book the show at no charge.

Dusty…at Home will open at the Water Tower complex on June 5, exhibiting through June 26, open daily between 10 am to 5 pm.

WW readers responded strongly to Yes’ story. Some criticized Yes’ art, while many shared stories of how they arranged domestic work in their relationships. Others reached out directly to buy Yes’ paintings, or offer her gallery space.

Kimberly Spain, a senior real estate manager with SKB, says she answered Yes’ call.

“I said, ‘Well, we have the space, let’s see if we can do it,’ and the higher-ups approved it and said no charge,” Spain says. “I think it’s a cool thing to have in the building, and it’s not in a common area space specifically, so if someone is offended, they don’t need to go in and look at it.”

“I am so grateful to [Spain] and SKB,” Yes wrote via email. “Happy ending to the story.”

SEE IT: Home shows at The Water Tower, 5331 S Macadam Ave.. 10 am–5 pm daily, June 5–June 26.

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