RALEIGH, N.C. — A big bay window on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh is the perfect place for a gallery to display art, but when a provocative painting shows Mary Magdalene involved in a sex act, many thought there was nothing artful about it.
"The officer came in. He was real nice and just said they had a couple of complaints about a particular piece in our bay window and asked us to remove it," art gallery owner Hunter Sparks said.
The people at Tattoo Devil Studios and Gallery took down the painting, but questioned whether police had the right to tell them to.
Officer C.M. Edwards thought the painting violated an ordinance that prohibits displays of full frontal nudity, but it is not clear whether that ordinance pertains to art. Capt. Dennis Poteat said either way, it is not a police problem.
"It's OK that we check in it, but at some point, we may have to say it's not a police matter and we just disengage," Poteat said.
The painting is back in the window, but artist Ana Vizacarra still has some unresolved issues.
"I'd like for somebody to explain to me exactly what it is that they find offensive about this piece," she said.
Poteat said he is looking into the ordinance to find out whether it does pertain to art. He said the department will not take any action against Tattoo Devil and Studio.