"Greenwich Artist Claims Work Depicting Moxley Murder Scene Was Censored"
By J.A. Johnson Jr., Greenwich Time
A local amateur photographer is concerned over what she sees as censorship
because her work depicting the 1975 Martha Moxley murder scene was removed from
a recent photography exhibit.
Janet Klion's "Getting Away With Murder" - a color photograph of a Barbie doll
face down on grass, its blond hair stained red with wine - was removed from an
exhibit at the Greenwich Arts Council's Greenwich Avenue gallery.
The council's executive director, Betsy Jordan Hand, yesterday said she did not
know when the photograph was taken down, or by whom, but that it had apparently
been removed from a gallery wall and placed inside an Arts Council office. The
removal of the photograph was not sanctioned by the Arts Council, she said.
The 71-year-old Baliwick Road woman's photograph was one of dozens submitted by
local shutterbugs for "Greenwich Through the Camera's Eye," a contest co-
sponsored by the Arts Council and Greenwich magazine, which published the
winning entries in its February edition. Entries were displayed at the Arts
Council gallery from Jan. 25 to Feb. 6.
Klion on Wednesday said she had not known her photograph was removed from
display until retrieving it this week from the Greenwich Art Center's second-
floor gallery. "It was entered, it was hung, it was in the contest program, and
when I went there the first morning it was there," Klion said. "But when I went
to pick it up, it wasn't there anymore, so I hung a note asking where my picture
was and saying it had been censored."
"It was not an appropriate response to take it down, and I take responsibility
for that as executive director of the Arts Council," Hand said. "From our point
of view, it was just a matter of sensitivity. One of the (show's) sponsors might
have decided to take it down, and it just stayed down. I do understand how Janet
could feel it was censorship, and I did apologize to her."
Asked if she accepted the apology, Klion said, "I understand her (Hand's)
position," adding that she will not pursue the matter further.
The case of Martha Moxley, who was fatally bludgeoned and stabbed the evening of
Oct. 30, 1975 outside her home in the town's affluent Belle Haven section, is
very much in the news again as a grand jury that was convened in June continues
to investigate the unsolved murder.
"I'd been brooding about the Moxley murder for a long time, so I decided I would
re-enact the crime," Klion said. "There is nothing obscene about my picture. I
just did it to raise consciousness that this young girl was killed and someone
has gotten away with murder." Klion said when she found out her crime scene
tableau had been removed from display, "I said, 'How dare you.' It made me
really angry because I took it to raise people's consciousness . ."
Surrounding the doll in Klion's photo are a miniature golf club, also stained
red, to represent the bloodied murder weapon; an orange gourd resembling a
pumpkin and symbolic of the crime having occurred on Halloween eve; a clock that
reads 9:50 p.m., the presumed time of the fatal attack; and a replica of the
footstone at Moxley's Putnam Cemetery grave.
A self-described "rabble rouser," Klion said she has attempted consciousness-
raising by previously exhibiting photographs of pregnant teens and wheelchair
athletes. "I want to be an advocate for people who can't speak for themselves,"
Hand said in her two years at the Arts Council helm, she could not recall any
artwork being removed because of content. "Last year we had an exhibition (of
photographs) in which there was a lewd depiction of nudes, and it stayed up, but
in an obscure place as part of the show," she said.
But "Getting Away With Murder" was different, she said. "For someone who knew
the Moxleys or the young woman, it would have been upsetting," Hand said. "My
daughters were active in the Belle Haven area, and we belonged to the Belle
Haven club at the time of the murder, and it brought back memories of the murder
and provoked anxieties that it hasn't been solved."
Though it was taken off display, "Getting Away With Murder" was evaluated along
with the other show entries by a panel of judges. One of the judges was Mary
Mountford de Hunt, co-owner of Barney's Place, a Greenwich Avenue art gallery.
De Hunt yesterday said she did not find anything about Klion's photo
objectionable and was surprised to learn it had been removed from the exhibit.
"I don't think bad taste comes into art," said de Hunt, who includes
controversial Robert Mapplethorpe among history's greatest photographers. "I
looked at ("Getting Away With Murder"), and I just didn't think it was
particularly good photography," de Hunt said. Other members of the three-judge
panel, Bruce Museum art curator Nancy Duncan and Greenwich magazine art director
Brooke Ossorio declined comment.
Those entries that won awards portrayed more traditional Greenwich scenes, such
as "Binney Park," "Eagle Pond in November" and "The Mianus Dock."
Coincidentally, the second-place winnder in the Adult-Color category was
"Sunstorm," by Jerry Dumas, father of Timothy Dumas, author of a non-fiction
book on the Moxley case, "Greentown: Murder and Mystery in Greenwich, America's