Maiden Voyages: December 2016

I had not intended to do a Maiden Voyages this month as I had no new news leads to share.  However, a reader just informed me about the tragic death of David Hamilton. Readers are reminded that even though I have not been active lately, I have not abandoned this site and continued leads are encouraged so that other readers may be kept up-to-date.

David Hamilton Dies: The controversial photographer who inspired so many collectors and other artists died on November 25th.  So far, the police believe it was a suicide—presumably out of despondency from the accusations of former models claiming rape by the man in their youth.  The first accusation came from Flavie Flament in a novelistic memoir entitled La Consolation where she describes the incident.  Flament would not confirm Hamilton’s identity publicly but featured one of his photos on the book cover. Given the timing of the death and the reputation of the photographer, the police needs to exercise caution about making hasty conclusions.  With what little information has been shared publicly, it seems equally likely to be an act of vigilantism.

I am not in a position to weigh in on the veracity of the rape accusations or Hamilton’s intent to sue for slander.  But such a turn of events once again brings us to the question of the value of an artist’s work.  Do the circumstances of a work’s creation have to be taken into account when evaluating it?  Whatever the facts may be, do they diminish or enhance its visceral impact?  Because of the taint of association, will the future yield no new artists who will admit to admiring his work?


Addendum: Sometimes I get leads from readers uncomfortable with having their comments published even under an alias.  I would like to add a few details that came my way about the circumstances of Hamilton’s death: found at the scene were sleeping pills and a plastic bag (presumably for suffocation).  Also, the door was left open and it should be clarified if this is commonplace among suicides.  Additionally, there was an exhibition of Hamilton’s work scheduled and so the context needs to be cleared up: in the light of these accusations, was he looking forward to it or did he become concerned about a public lynching?  Or was this a plot engineered to put an end to the exhibition of his work and ones like it?

Maiden Voyages: October-November 2016

Welcome readers to a belated Maiden Voyages.  Within two weeks of my fruitful research trip, Mother Nature unleashed her chaos and I had a freak accident at home which sent me to the hospital.  As traumas go, it was a minor one but recovery is gradual.  My injuries have made it difficult to sit for a long time which is why there have been no posts from me in a while.  To make matters worse, my private business has been busier than ever.  Many days I have intended to work on a post or reply to emails to find myself too exhausted mentally and physically.  This has taken an emotional toll as I deal with bureaucracy of the broken American medical system.  I thank my friends and readers for their well wishes and promise to continue as I am able.  My research trip has been an inspiration and I have many interesting things to share.  However, producing a post to my standards does take time and cannot be done in one sitting.  I still believe Pigtails in Paint has an important function and should continue to do so.  I also encourage those interested in composing posts for this site to please do so.

Mission Statement: One of the ideas that came from my trip was the urgent need for a mission statement.  It goes without saying that Pigtails covers a number of controversial subjects associated with little girls.  However, like the proverbial elephant in the living room, it is an important subject that the conventions of society would have us ignore, trivialize or offer patent simplistic answers to.  Once posted, the ‘Mission Statement’ will reflect what I have learned to date about the valuable function this site serves, whether people want to acknowledge it or not.

Lessons from Behind the Iron Curtain: A Jock Sturges show titled ‘Absence of Shame’ was recently closed in Moscow after protests and charges that the work was child pornography. The government investigated and concurred with the complainants and ordered it shut down.  Given the U.S. President-Elect’s admiration for Russian methods for controlling its people, one has to wonder how much the United States will be following suit in the years to come.  Our readers should be reminded that Pigtails has been blocked in that country since 2014 and can only be accessed through proxy servers.

A Fresh New Site: I was informed of an interesting new site covering young girl portraiture.  The blogger states that: “The intention is to help redress, in admittedly a very limited way, the imbalance that exists with regard to images of girls online.”  It seems that image sites such as Tumblr delete any blogs that seem to be concentrating on young girls though specific policies regarding young girls are not clearly spelled out in the respective ToS (Terms of Service). Girls’ Portraiture intends to offer proper context to images rather than the popular convention of presenting a mash of random and unidentified images.

New Sia Video: Here is another one featuring Maddie Ziegler (plus a bunch of other kids).  There are also a couple other older videos of hers that may have been overlooked. One called Big Girls Cry has Maddie in it and another called Alive has a cute little Asian girl doing martial arts. It seems that the theme of children and little girls is a long-standing one for Sia.  In Alive, the little girl does a series of forms (kata in Japanese) which happen to be very advanced—done only by brown and black belts, an impressive accomplishment for a girl that age.

Vintage Postcards: An excellent collection of vintage postcards featuring girls and children has been brought to my attention.  Take a look here.

Site Design: Thanks to the efforts of supporters, there will be a noticeable change in the appearance of this blog.  It was my intent to have these changes take effect this month when our domain name was renewed.  However, unavoidable delays on all fronts means that these changes are likely to be implemented in the new year.  There will be a new banner designed by one of our artists and the layout style and site functions will be updated to make the site more professional.

The Kiss of Death: It has been brought to my attention that one of the films reviewed on this site, The Spy Who Caught a Cold, was deleted from YouTube.  It has become clear to me that because of the large readership of Pigtails, we have become a source of intelligence for the “decency police”.  Therefore, readers should know that any relevant video materials appearing on YouTube are copied in the course of doing the relevant posts.  If any reader would like an MP4 copy of such a film that can be viewed on a computer, it can be made available for download (assuming the video is unavailable elsewhere).

International Day of the Girl

Hey, folks!  How’s it going?  Just a little reminder that today is the International Day of the Girl-Child, so designated by the United Nations, so it’s a great day to celebrate girls, including girls in art (and girls in the arts!) This is the fifth anniversary of the UN-created observance, founded in 2011 and initiated by the charitable organization Plan International.

Further Reading:

Day of the Girl (Official)

Day of the Girl Summit 2016

Wikipedia: International Day of the Girl Child

International Business Times: International Day Of The Girl 2016: Quotes And Facts To Celebrate, Empower Young Women

The White House: Presidential Proclamation — International Day of the Girl, 2016

The Guardian: How are you marking International Day of the Girl? Share your stories

Maiden Voyages: September 2016

Hiatus and Research Trip: Usually, I get a lot more done in the summer on Pigtails because my work schedule slows down.  However, this year I had the opportunity to make a special trip to visit one of my special collectors.  Sometimes you just have to meet someone in person and, if all goes well, this will be a windfall for the readers of Pigtails. Now all I have to do is produce it!  For a while, I will be focusing on films and the new material I just received interspersed with items I had already been working on.

I would like to thank Pip, Christian and Arizona for keeping the home fires burning by contributing posts during this past month.

Maiden Voyages: August 2016

Light Month: Probably due to the vacation season, I have not received a lot of leads worth reporting this month.  I would like to advise readers that we will be changing the appearance of the site.  When the current theme was selected, I had assumed that the fonts could be easily changed.  Once we committed to it, it became risky to change it without losing information (and our hard work).  I have been assured by our new site technician that we can have a more up-to-date template, that it will have a more suitable appearance and will have more features consistent with the design of professional-looking blogs today.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, -Ron

Maiden Voyages: July 2016

Original Art for the Masthead: A couple of artists have approached me about the design of Pigtails in Paint’s masthead. So far, it has been composed by Pip from existing images and he never got the inspiration to create original art for it. Therefore, we are offering the opportunity for artists to have their original art appear as Pigtails’ banner for one year. Approved new images will appear beginning in mid-November. There are a few guidelines to make the design consistent with Pigtails’ image. 1) Naturally, it should feature a little girl or girls (optimum age around 8, but we are certainly flexible on this). 2) The girl should have pigtails of some kind. 3) And Pip had the idea that the girl should be holding a brush (or other artistic instrument) and appear to be finishing up the lettering in the title. 4) The color scheme should be appropriate—”warmer” tones. Examples of past mastheads can be seen here to give you an idea of past styles.  You can include the motto or let us add that in.  We do not require the original artwork so long as a scan of sufficient quality can be provided.  We look forward to your submissions and Ron will work with you every step of the way.

Bodies, Dressed and Undressed: Coincidences are remarkable and just as I finally got access to some of Flor Garduño’s published books, Pip and Christian inform me that there are better versions of the many images used in the two posts on this site (here and here). There is a wonderful introduction by Verónica Volkow in the book Inner Light (2002) which eloquently expresses the artist’s attitude about the relevance of nudes and flowers and their connection.  A slightly abridged transcription has been posted here.

Why Do All the Good Guys Die So Young?  We must sadly report that Emmett Munger Mann, son of acclaimed photographer Sally Mann died on June 5th in his home.  No information about the cause of death has been released.  It is always tragic when parents outlive their children and doubly so in this case, because Emmett was so interested in the cause of justice.

Screenshot of Sally with Emmett during the filming of The Genius of Photography (2007)

Screenshot of Sally with Emmett during the filming of The Genius of Photography (2007)

Suspense-Horror with a Twist: A colleague brought my attention to a short film called Luna (2013).  For those interested in this genre, it is worth a look.

Maiden Voyages: June 2016

There has been a lot of drama this past month.

A Disturbing Precedent: On May 11th, an organization called FSM-Hotline, sent a request to Pigtails in Paint’s service provider to have two pages removed from the site: ‘Stolen Dreams and the Japanese School’ and the ‘Dream Girls’ companion page. Since service providers tend to err on the side of caution and give themselves liberal discretion in interpreting the Terms of Service (TOS), they have directed us to clause prohibiting, “child pornography or content perceived to be child pornography”. The problem is that Pigtails’ mission is to work to alter those very misperceptions and yet we must somehow operate under these arbitrary standards. Nonetheless, to prevent being summarily shut down, we have complied with the request.

The Charge: According to the complaint, the pages contain material that are “potentially criminal” under German Criminal Code. FSM claims that German law enforcement concurs with their assessment, but the statement is ambiguous. It is also unfortunate that the service provider decided to respect a request from a watchdog organization rather than an appropriate law enforcement agency. Even law enforcement agencies have a tendency of misjudging situations (out of ignorance) and take actions that are later thrown out in court. The proper authority for making a removal request ought to be an agency belonging to the court system. Additionally, the request should be made from a U.S. agency, under whose law we are supposed to be operating. It is impractical to have to comply with the myriad laws that may vary from country to county. Issues of jurisdiction aside, an article quoting a real law expert in Germany seems to confirm that the ‘Stolen Dreams’ post is actually legal in that country and would not have precipitated legal proceedings.

The Organization: FSM-Hotline and its parent organization INHOPE are private charities and are being deceptive when they make such strongly-worded requests. Like many such organizations, they probably do submit reports to law enforcement but do not have any special standing with them. It is disconcerting that such a vigilante group should have this kind of sway on what is presented on the internet, given their highly-prejudiced standard that demonstrates less expertise than Pigtails in Paint itself. Any readers who want to protest FSM’s actions—accusing this site of hosting Child sexual abuse material (Child Pornography)—should do so by email and refer to unique report number 54892:

Our Action: Ideally, we want visual materials to be available to the public so it can judged on an individual basis and not filtered by the biases of those who purport to represent the average person or a moral code. When time allows, a text-only version of the ‘Stolen Dreams’ post will be published with a paragraph explaining the situation. We will also be shopping for a new service provider who can be counted on not to cave in to such insubstantial and ill-informed pressure. Ideally, Pigtails should be formally sponsored by an established art or academic institution that would help allay any questions of legitimacy. If successful, we hope to republish the post intact at a later date. A PDF version of the post will be made available to prospective service providers and/or sponsors as needed.

Please help us resist these efforts to suppress legitimate material that allows our detractors to diminish our effectiveness bit by bit.

An Impending Conflagration: On May 23rd and 24th, a final hearing was held in the Isleworth Crown Court between Graham Ovenden‭ ‬and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. The hearing was dedicated to making a final determination regarding the destruction of historical and art photographs and a number of graphic works created by the artist. The hearing was conducted by senior Judge McGregor-Johnson who was flanked by two others, Ms. S. McGregor and Mrs. A. Newmark.‭ ‬Barrister Robert Linford and Solicitor T.J. O’Callighan‭ ‬represented the appellant, graciously offering their services free of charge. The biggest objection at the proceedings was the simple fact that there is no legal grounds for judging artistic merit in a court of law. The judges also used common colloquialisms to describe images instead of using the more proper language of the “visually literate”. The issue of the relationship between words and pictures was also brought up and how they together create the context for judging a work. However, the lead judge’s verdict was to ignore such connections, regardless of historical or political relevance. As a result, many of the poetry broadsheets, ‭which lent voice to children—expressing both their positive and negative experiences—are now to have their words posthumously obliterated from history. Surely the fact that this imagery might be considered distasteful by the tender-minded or sexually neurotic does not justify the indignity of these children being silenced. The decision to deem some pieces indecent and some not reached a point of absurdity. In some cases, one would have been hard-pressed to notice the difference between two examples when placed side by side. Nevertheless, the fact that the court should save any of the images slated for destruction is at least a partial triumph. Of the pieces deemed not indecent—none of which were created after 1987—were three from the Pierre Louÿs collection (27 are to be destroyed) and the bulk of the drawings and paintings produced by Ovenden himself.

Alabama is a Third-World Country: After a number of postponements, Chris Madaio’s trial to determine if he violated his parole conditions took place in Morgan County, Alabama.  Unable to afford his own attorney, a public defender was assigned to him.  The problem with public defenders is that they are usually overworked or have an understanding with the judge to just process people through the system, regardless of the merits of the case.  Madaio discovered his lawyer was incompetent and decided to accept a plea bargain, getting a sentence of 14 months.  The disturbing thing about the case was how obvious questions were not even asked like why the prosecution assumed he had access to the illegal materials in the storage unit, why others who clearly had access are not being charged and when those materials were placed there.  The third question suggests the possibility that the defendant has been subjected to double jeopardy in this case.  Madaio believes the court is going out of its way to make an example of him because he was a published photographer and wants to remind Americans that, “Freedom isn’t a right, it must be earned.”

Contact Form: For those of you wishing to reach the editorial staff by email, there is a new contact form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.  You can reach us using that form or just leave a private message in the comments section of the appropriate post.  If any readers find out-of-date email addresses printed on the site, please inform us so they can be updated.

RSS Feeds and Site Design: As we continue to experience growing pains, it has been necessary to add features that enhance our security and professionalism.  Until the site is fully updated, there might be some rough edges here and there.  For example, information on RSS Feeds had to be returned to one of the tabs at the top of the page.  For the time being, this information can be found under the ‘About This Site’ page.

Context is Everything: Facebook is at it again.  Images of nudity are being shared on social media, but because it is taken out of context, Facebook finds itself removing the images then replacing them when it learns the actual intent or backstory.  Learn more in this BBC Trending article.

‭I Must Plead Ignorance: Although I pride myself on being well-read and knowledgeable, life is an ongoing learning process. One of the complaints about the final Ovenden hearing was the judges’ failure to use proper terminology in their descriptions. I find it annoying when the term vagina is used to refer to a woman’s external genitalia when anyone versed in anatomy knows it to be internal. I usually resort to more clinical or scientific terms in my descriptions, but I was surprised to learn of the word pudendum (more commonly used in the plural, pudenda), which can be used to refer to the superficial genital organs of a girl or woman.

Maiden Voyages: May 2016

A Premium Postcard Collection: It is with great excitement that I announce that my friend Stuart—who has perhaps the world’s biggest collection of Edwardian postcards—has finally consented to share his collection with Pigtails readers.  It will take time to sort through and scan thousands of postcards but as they become available, I will share them here.  For starters, some new Reutlinger images have come to light and that post has been updated.  I think I can speak for all of us when I say that this generosity is greatly appreciated.

Guilt by Association: On May 9th, photographer Chris Madaio is scheduled to stand trial for charges that he violated the conditions of his parole after serving 4 years in prison for possession of child pornography (see more details on his story here).  Although Madaio does not contest the original charges, the Morgan County, Alabama authorities seem determined to find any excuse to continue to punish him.  The new charges are based on images found on a computer and some USB drives found in a storage unit with his name on it.  The unit belonged to two women, the sister and a friend of Samuel Hyde.  Hyde was a convicted sex offender whom Madaio knew for a short time while attending the same court-ordered program.  The women allowed Hyde personal use of the unit, but neither they nor Hyde have been indicted.  To complicate things further, Hyde made a statement against Madaio before dying under mysterious circumstances.  It would be difficult to speculate on the veracity of all the details of the case, but it is an excellent illustration of how the justice system prefers to grandstand on prosecutions rather than rehabilitate and reintegrate those who have been convicted.  Although Madaio has a court-appointed attorney, he is hopeful that a more trusted family lawyer will be allowed to serve as co-counsel.

No News is Bad News: An item came across my desk about a controversy regarding a GAP Kids clothing line and the portrayal of Black people.  An ad campaign featuring a performing troupe called Le PeTiT CiRqUe (more on them in a future post) included one image with a bigger girl resting her arm on a shorter Black girl.  You can read a little about it here.  With all the special interest groups involved in this issue, many people are getting on the bandwagon and making a lot of noise.  Whatever the circumstances, I would like to humbly suggest that those sincerely interested in the cause of racial justice not waste their energy on something that will accomplish nothing while giving free publicity to a major clothing company.  On the other hand, it is nice that Le PeTiT CiRqUe got a little press.

Gap Kids Ad Campaign (2016)

Gap Kids Ad Campaign (2016)

“Moral Welfare” on the Set: One of our readers, who is child modeling agent, has shared items of interest regarding the changing rules and conditions of child models and actors. For example, in the past, outtakes from films shot in the days before the internet would never see the light of day and if there was some inadvertent nudity, it was of little concern. But today, a lot of behind-the-scenes footage gets leaked and so the rules in Hollywood have become a lot stricter.  An online article shares an interesting anecdote regarding the opening scene of Disney’s Pollyanna and informs readers that now, under California law, it is studio teachers who are responsible for the moral welfare of children in their charge.

To Top or Not to Top: As many readers of this site are aware, in many countries outside the United States, it is routine for undeveloped younger girls to swim in public without bikini tops.  A mother shares an interesting story about her 7-year-old daughter’s recent trip to Spain.  It offers a little insight about a child’s body image and her ability to adapt to different cultural norms.  The editorial concludes with the mother seeking this advice: now that the girl is used to swimming without a top, how can she be persuaded to go back?

Auction News: A friend passed on this small item about Sotheby’s auctioning off a few Sally Mann photographs on May 19th.  A lot of big-name photographers are featured and the Mann images are numbered 58–61.  Speculation in art has continued to inflate prices.

Maiden Voyages: April 2016

It is my wish that Pigtails in Paint serve as a chorus of those interested in the rarefied but important subject of the little girl.  In the months to come, it is my intent to make our needs more clear, so readers can contribute in small or large ways to help spread the burdens of running this blog.  -Ron

A Fresh Voice: I would like to welcome aboard Arizona as a new Pigtails contributor.  He has commented many times in the past with well-researched information that I felt would be an asset and he has kindly consented to putting together a number of posts, particularly in the area of illustration.  Also, WCL has shown a renewed interest in contributing more regularly to this site.  He has agreed to help pick up some of the slack by producing short posts featuring his extensive collection of postcards and advertisements.  Thank you both.

Contemporary Artists and Their Children: There is a long history of artists using their children as subjects in their art and many have been covered here on Pigtails.  A reader shared an interesting article about 13 contemporary artists published in The New York Times Style Magazine.  Of particular interest are Chantal Joffe—an artist already scheduled for coverage on this site—Carrie Mae Weems, John Currin, Friedrich Kunath and Sarah Illenberger.  Although a brief statement accompanies the work of each of these artists, the main article written by Rivka Galchen was about French artist Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755–1842) and the challenges she faced at a time when female artists were not taken seriously.  In fact, it was commonly believed that women simply did not have the disposition to be competent in this arena—a frustrating situation to say the least.

A Computer All Her Own: Since the passing of Steve Jobs, there has been a strange reverence whenever people around the world talk about the man.  In times like this, it is refreshing when a filmmaker has the courage to just tell it like it is.  Sure, Jobs had ambition and a vision and was responsible for many products that people love, but is it really the man people loved?  This question is explored in Alex Gibney’s documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015).  It seems the biggest issues had to do with Jobs’ interpersonal relationships.  For example, one of his first girlfriends, Chrisann Brenna, became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, Lisa.

Alex Gibney - Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015) (1)

Alex Gibney – Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015) (1)

Jobs’ reaction to this seemed strange.  On the one hand, he tried to deny his paternity and was legally compelled to take a blood test to confirm it.  But, in the unveiling of the new Apple computer, he christened it Lisa.  Did he think it a good marketing tactic or was he somehow moved by the reality of having a little daughter?

Alex Gibney - Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015) (2)

Alex Gibney – Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015) (2)

Banksy Outed!  A study was conducted by scientists at London’s Queen Mary University to discover the identity of Banksy, an artist profiled earlier on this site.  They used a technique called geographic profiling used to catch serial criminals. The results identify the elusive artist as Robin Gunningham.  It is both amusing and disturbing that this much effort would be expended to make this identification and implies that, to some, his work is a form of criminal behavior.   I know Pigtails readers wish Gunningham the best of luck in future efforts which have to be conducted without the cloak of anonymity.

Compensating Artists: There was an interesting article about the problem of artists getting compensated for for their exhibitions at nonprofit institutions in the United States.  There is some logic for commercial galleries with an eye for profit, to avoid compensating artists, but it makes less sense for organizations claiming to support artists.

Molly Crabapple: This artist tells a frank story about art and the reality of the art world from a woman’s perspective.  She recently published a memoir that will be of interest to many of our readers.

Maiden Voyages: March 2016

Comments Guidelines: Of late, Pigtails has rejected a number of comments that do not fit the tone of this site and so this is an opportune time to clarify our editorial standards. First and foremost, the ultimate responsibility for the image and reputation of Pigtails in Paint lies with Ron, the Editor-in-Chief.  Therefore every single approval or rejection is a judgment call and cannot be expected to be perfectly consistent—if such a thing is ever possible.  Generally speaking, we try to encourage new voices, but draw the line at superficial comments that do not add substance to a post or provoke thoughtful debate.  It goes without saying that a number of the girls covered on this site are, in some way, alluring and simple testimonials to that effect do not contribute to a respectful and thoughtful attitude about the artists and models involved.  This site is also not a forum for racial or religious bigotry nor is it a venue for “outing” one’s sexual preferences or intimate life.  It is understandable that a wide range of people will be attracted to this site and no one’s contribution will be rejected, on principle, except if they fail to offer something of substance.   Unsophisticated attempts to bait us into associations with illegal behavior or hate mongering will be strongly resisted.  This policy has been necessary to ensure that Pigtails in Paint may continue to serve its noble purpose.  Sincere objections to editorial decisions should be directed to Ron in a private email.

Translation Breakthroughs: I am pleased to announce some progress on finding volunteers to assist in transcribing and translating foreign texts.  Nevertheless, in the interest of consistency and timeliness, it is best to spread out the burden and not to rely too heavily on only a few individuals.  Of particular need are those who can transcribe and/or translate Japanese.  Such work will be instrumental in finally producing posts on Lolicon photographers published in Japan (Shizuki Obuchi, Yoji Ishikawa, Hiromi Saimon et al).  But translators are still needed for many other languages in which material relevant to this site may have been published.

Pushing Back (Ovenden): On May 19–20, a hearing will be held regarding Graham Ovenden’s appeal to reconsider the disposition of materials slated for destruction by the British courts.  It should be understood that this appeal is not merely about saving artifacts of historical and artistic significance, but an indictment of police behavior—and to a lesser extent, the courts—in their overzealous attempts to make an example of this artist and antiquarian to the public.  A political reality that persecuted artists seem to neglect is that wrongful prosecution needs to be fought and resisted—even at great cost—or authorities will get the mistaken impression that their methods are acceptable and have served the greater good of society.  Ovenden is demonstrating leadership by his actions.

Self-Taught Dubstepper: One of our readers shared this item about 12-year-old Adilyn Malcolm who taught herself the dance by watching and rewatching videos.