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[whitespace] Artist sees no beauty in 'sick' radio ad

Willow Glen--A billboard ad for a local radio station has stirred up business owners at Lincoln and Coe avenues. The advertisement for KSJO radio features a pair of nude pregnant women with men's faces under the heading of "Morning Sickness."

Edward Sakai, of the art studio Made to Match, considers the sign to be grotesque. "I'm all for freedom of expression, but this is mocking women," he said. "Morning sickness is a real thing. Why make a mockery of it? It doesn't belong in Willow Glen."

The artist doesn't consider himself to be conservative by any means, but feels that the ad was put up to create controversy.

Sakai's work includes nude oils and gothic styles. Outside his gallery stands an aluminum garden gallery with a cow skull. "There's no such thing as bad publicity," he says of the ad. "I love the female form, the beauty of women and the circle of life. But this is not beautiful anymore."

Sakai says that while he has to look at the billboard, he has also been thwarted by the city's planning commission in his efforts to put his own sign above his gallery. He adds that the commission told him that the proposed metal sculpture for his sign doesn't conform to city codes, and that he was told to tone the style down. "They want me to put the sign in Plexiglas, like a generic Walgreens sign," he says.

San Jose resident Oscar Cobian, who was doing his laundry at Lincoln Lauderland across the street, objects to the KSJO sign because the nearby bus stops are frequented by Willow Glen schoolchildren. Bob Cooney of AVS Graphics and Communications, next door to Sakai's gallery, calls the ad tasteless. "This is a family community, and I wish it wasn't there," he said.

Jim Richards, KSJO operations manager, defends the ad, though he says the radio station expected to get criticized for it. "All we're trying to do is promote a goofy morning radio show with a goofy, silly ad. We're definitely not trying to ruffle anyone's feathers," he says. "This is a big metropolitan area, with over five and a half million people. We've gotten forty complaints. It is such a small percentage."

The billboard ad has been posted in several cities around the Bay Area. KSJO has already agreed to take the signs down in East Oakland. The station has posted several other copies of the ad in San Jose, but has no plans to take them down.
Michele Leung

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