Gwinnett County Library System allows local artists to display their works at their libraries. Local artist Ralph Beach displayed his paintings of several evangelic preachers including Joel Osteen. Everything was fine until someone complained. Beach was then asked to remove his art ahead of the scheduled removal date of August 11.
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.
Of course, the library system has a number of Osteen’s books available for your reading pleasure.
Was Gwinnett County Libraries right or wrong in making Beach remove his art?