Photo: Ralph Beach Lawrenceville artist Ralph Beach presents his art exhibit at the Grayson Branch Library of evangelical preachers, including Joel Osteen shown.
GRAYSON -- When Lawrenceville resident and artist Ralph Beach first hung his art at the Grayson Branch Library, he was told he could keep it up until Aug. 11. But after a complaint made by a library patron, he was asked to take it down this past Saturday.
Beach's exhibit consisted of eight well-known evangelical preachers, including Joel Osteen, made from Stonehenge paper (a traditional fine art paper with a smooth, flawless surface that resembles vellum) in a large scale.
"They made me take it down," Beach said. "I guess some of the bigwigs from the office in charge of the libraries ... said it was 'inclusive, too narrow.'"
The library originally hung the art, but a library official said that the scope of the art wasn't realized until it was on view to the public.
"Both the community and local artists have enjoyed and benefited from the art program at the library," said Barbara Spruill, branch services division director for Gwinnett County Public Library. "We started the program so that the community could experience the work of local artists in a neutral environment. ... The library strives to present the community with a broad perspective. What has happened with Mr. Beach is unfortunate. The scope of this display was not realized until it was fully installed."
Beach doesn't only create religious works -- he paints nature and people as well.
"They said I could put something else up, but now I don't think I want to," he said. "Now I'm asking, 'What can I put up?' What if I wanted to do all pictures from the Holocaust or slavery? What then? Where does the censorship end? Art is supposed to evoke emotions.
"Since I can't show (this art) anywhere else except for churches where it's home at, maybe I can bring them there, then offer to sell prints of the originals and the sale of every print goes to the church," Beach said.
Even after the dismissal of the exhibit, Spruill said would like to work with Beach again in the future.
"We look forward to highlighting the works of local artists and hope that Mr. Beach will continue to participate," she said.
Beach's artwork can be found at www.ralphbeachart.com.