An art exhibit that was scheduled to be on display until Aug. 11 at the Grayson library was removed on Saturday following a complaint by a library patron.
Lawrenceville artist Ralph Beach said he was contacted by the library on Friday and told that he needed to remove it. Beach said he was told that a woman of the Jewish faith complained that the sketches were not inclusive. They were all of televangelists who were of the Christian faith.
Beach said the display was already down when he arrived Saturday.
“The manager said it was easiest to take it down when no patrons were in the library,” Beach said, adding he was shocked that he was asked to remove it. “Why was this woman’s rights more important than mine. The exhibition was not excluding anyone. It was not about religion – it was about my relationship with Jesus. What about my civil rights? What about freedom of speech? Isn't that what reading does – exposes us to other ways of thinking and how others think, feel, live."
The exhibit contained eight well-known television evangelical preachers drawn with pencil on Stonehenge paper.
Barbara Spruill, branch services director with the Gwinnett County Library System, said they had asked Beach to take it down after receiving a written complaint about it.
"We have worked with Mr. Beach before and he has exhibited with us before. We love his work," Spruill said. "However, we felt the scope of this particular exhibit was a little too narrow for the broad public audience that we have. This represented a singular point of view and we did have to respond to that - as well as to ensure that the artwork that is on display does not make anyone uncomfortable in the library."
As part of the Gwinnett County Public Library system, Grayson library is a public building.
Although he is outspoken about his faith, the website shows that Beach works on many different subjects and in a variety of mediums. He said the library system has offered him the opportunity to display other subject matter instead of the evangelical exhibit. Officials at the library confirmed that this was the case.
In the meantime, this particular exhibit is no longer on display at the Grayson library. However, other works by Beach can be found on his website at www.ralphbeachart.com.