CINCINNATI, OCT. 3 -- Contemporary Arts Center Director Dennis Barrie took the stand today to defend himself against obscenity charges and said he had "an ethical and moral commitment" to exhibit the Robert Mapplethorpe show in its entirety despite controversy surrounding it.

After Barrie's testimony, the defense rested. Closing arguments will be presented after the prosecution introduces rebuttal testimony from witness Judith Reisman, who identifies herself as a mass media analyst specializing in visual communication.

The defense opposes testimony from Reisman, contending that the prosecution arguments should now be limited to the artistic merit of Mapplethorpe's work.

A resident of Arlington, Reisman has a doctorate in communications from Case Western Reserve University and worked for several years producing music videos for "Captain Kangaroo." She also was the author of a controversial 1,600-page study on children, crime and violence, for which she reviewed more than 700 issues of Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler magazines. The $734,000 study was funded by the Justice Department and published by the Huntington House. It became the subject of a congressional inquiry and much criticism.

She has little background in art, although she says she is "a modest sculptor."

"Not to embarrass the witness, but she has less than 30 hours of schooling on art," defense lawyer Louis Sirkintold the judge.

The court appears ready to hear from Reisman, who testified at an August hearing that each photograph stands on its own. That bolstered the prosecution's contention that any single picture could serve as the basis for conviction.

The defense argues that the court should consider the entire exhibition because the works must be evaluated "as a whole" in obscenity cases. The Supreme Court has ruled that books, plays and performances must be judged in their entirety rather than on the basis of excerpts.

But Judge David Albanese yesterday stood by an earlier ruling that each photograph is an individual unit. The defense may not show the jury any of Mapplethorpe's work other than the seven photographs that served as the basis of the indictments in the case, the judge said.

Albanese would not allow jurors to see a picture of the display table that held five of those seven photographs, nor would he permit the defense to introduce a copy of the arts center's annual report.

Albanese said letting the jury see all 175 pictures in the Mapplethorpe exhibit could lead to "a determination that the whole exhibit is obscene ... and that certainly would not be fair to the other {pictures}."

Earlier, Barrie testified that he saw a Mapplethorpe exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York and found it "moving and beautiful." He arranged to bring the retrospective to Cincinnati in 1988, he said.

When the Corcoran Gallery declined to show the exhibit in 1989, he said, he notified the arts center board of potential controversy but received unanimous support for the show on several occasions.

Barrie said he did not consider changing or canceling the show. "We had a legal contract... . {And} every standard I have in terms of arts exhibitions said this was a perfectly fine exhibit, that there should be no change," he said.

Barrie said he believed that all necessary consent had been granted when the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia assembled the show. The prosecution contends the arts center didn't have proper parental consent to exhibit portraits of two children whose genitals are visible. The mothers of both children provided written consent after the arts center was indicted.

Also appearing as a defense witness was Owen Findsen, a lifelong area resident and a reporter and art critic for the Cincinnati Enquirer. He had given the Mapplethorpe show a favorable review.

Findsen testified that the glossy copies of the seven photos that have been shown to the jury do not do justice to Mapplethorpe's work. "A Xerox of a Rembrandt is not a Rembrandt," he said.

Findsen had written that the portraits of the children were innocent and that the controversy over the pictures is "a perfect illustration of the phrase, 'evil is in the eye of the beholder.' "

Prosecutor Frank Prouty asked Findsen whether the pictures might not strike others differently. "I met a woman who was offended by this exhibit because she thought the flowers were ugly," Findsen replied. "She was a gardener."