The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities

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Artist Jay Critchley holding an Old Glory Condom business card

Old Glory Condom Corporation installation at MIT, 1989

Jay Critchley, Artist and Founder, The Provincetown Community Compact www.jaycritchley.com

For his presentation at TransCultural Exchange’s 2016 International Conference on Opportunities in the Arts, Jay Critchley focused on the Old Glory Condom Corporation – “worn with pride, country-wide.” Critchley is President of the corporation, which won a three-year legal battle with the US Trademark Office. At a 1989 press conference for his patriotic condom company (held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s List Visual Arts Center), Critchley called on President Bush to organize an army of “safer sex soldiers” to fight HIV/AIDS and redefine what it means to be patriotic: to protect and save lives. The actual business, which marketed condoms and tee shirts bearing the flag-inspired logo worldwide, was launched on Flag Day in 1990, concurrent with the World AIDS Conference in San Francisco. The corporation filed for a trademark from the US government for its logo and its name, but the Trademark Office ruled that “it was immoral and scandalous to associate the flag with sex” and denied the application. Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer David Cole protested the decision, and the trademark was ultimately granted after a three-year legal battle.

Old Glory Condom(“Condoms with a Conscience”)received widespread media coverage, including a front page piece in the Washington Post and a feature story in People magazine. Senator Jessie Helms, an architect of the culture wars, inadvertently created the first global safer sex commercial by holding up the logo and denouncing its trademark in the US Senate. His denouncement was broadcast on CNN.

Latex is 4 Lovers Button

Latex is for Lovers campaign logo


The Old Glory Condom Corporationalso launched the successful project Latex is for Lovers, a campaign structured to alert the public that lambskin condoms do not prevent the transmission of the HIV virus. Latex is for Lovers was the result of an in-depth study of condom usage in the US, initiated by Old Glory Condom Corporation at Simmons Graduate School.

More of Critchley’s work can be viewed at www.jaycritchley.com. He also spoke about the Provincetown Community Compact in a Pecha Kucha presentation during this conference, which is available here.

1992 Men of Old Glory Calendar

Men of Old Glory Calendar, 1992

Photo Credit: Kathy Chapman