Gaggle of international artists featured in erotic ’12 Inches of Sin’

Relax, dudes. They don’t mean it that way.

Admittedly, though, an erotic art exhibit titled "12 Inches of Sin" could leave many males in Las Vegas sobbing in the shower, nursing a painful inferiority complex. (Except, perhaps, some overly gifted porn stars.)

However, at Sin City Gallery’s arousing new show, size matters, as in keeping it small. (The artwork, gutterbrain — the artwork!)

"We wanted a really good representation of what artists could do with that constraint," says gallery artistic director Debbe Sussman about the contest that spawned the display, the artists’ pieces limited to 12 inches in any direction.

"That’s a very small canvas for most artists to work with."

Translation: It’s not the size of the canvas; it’s the motion of the paintbrush.

While we can’t show you — or even describe — the more explicit entries, the 25-piece feast of sexuality and sensuality is an international celebration of erotica born of a call for submissions by the gallery. Depictions — around 200 of them — arrived from Israel, Poland, Germany, England, Canada, Uruguay and the United States, particularly from Las Vegas and California artists.

Surprisingly, Sussman says, some of the more graphic images came from what we’d consider one of the unlikeliest places — Lebanon. "It’s a strange feeling when you think of all the censorship there," she says, referring to one painting leaving little to the imagination on the topic of male self-gratification.

"But the artists break out, and I’m glad we can do that for them."

(FYI: The exhibit at the cozy little gallery at the Arts Factory is not open to minors. In fact, a peephole peeking in from outside is set at a height where anyone who can’t see in, can’t come in to see. How that applies to prematurely tall teens or kids suspected of steroid use is unknown.)

Evaluated by a local jury including Sussman, arts advocate Brian Paco Alvarez and gallery manager/burlesque performer Lou Lou Roxy, the entries — created in numerous genres, including photography, drawings, paintings and sculptures — were narrowed to 25 finalists honored with a space on the wall. "Best of Show" winner Allan Teger of Florida, chosen by a panel of a dozen judges, will be given a solo exhibition in the future.

Those judges aren’t all art experts, but they are qualified sex-perts, as selected by curator Laura Henkel. "We have judges from all over the world, some involved in the sex industry in some ways," Sussman says. "One of them is the director of a sex museum in Moscow. Another writes a lot of how-to’s and help manuals on sex. They hopefully bring a different mindset. The people who juried it had the (art) expertise, so we didn’t feel we needed art experts as judges."

Among the submitted pieces we’ll at least touch on, so to speak: "12 Gun Salute" by KD Matheson and Larry Domsky, in which a dozen erect wooden phalluses, well, salute; and two by Teger: "Card Swiper," a clever, explicit portrait combining female sexuality with a credit card/ATM motif (sorry, we can’t explain it any more than that), and "Mountain Climbers," his "bodyscape," in which miniature men scale an imposing cliff — a female breast.

Perhaps the most provocative piece, direct from Israel, shows no people, no body parts, but is … well, it … um … forget it. You’ll have to see it, perhaps with a slack-jawed expression. Exquisitely painted, it is certain to trigger discussion, one of art’s main missions.

"It’s important to show that erotic art can be sophisticated and beautiful, it’s not pornographic," Sussman says. "The people who live here need to recognize that it doesn’t always have to be about strip clubs and (porn conventions). There’s another level that’s eye-catching and tasteful."

By the way:

"Size doesn’t really matter in art," Sussman says.

Feel better dudes — at least artistically?

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ or 702-383-0256.

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