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SANTA PAULA : Art Featuring Nudes Taken From Library

Paintings that were taken down from the Blanchard Community Library in Santa Paula after complaints about the nudity in the works were moved to the Santa Paula Art Society’s Depot Art Gallery Wednesday.

Santa Paula artist Barbara Baumgarten’s paintings were to be shown until the end of December on a wall reserved for the Santa Paula Art Society. But the pictures were taken down Sunday, less than a week after they went up.

“The children’s story hour is held close to where the paintings are, and quite a few of the mothers complained that they didn’t want their children to see the pictures and that it is inappropriate for the library to display them,” Dan Robles, library director, said.

Robles said although he didn’t find the works objectionable, he called the art society’s president to tell her about the complaints, and she decided to switch the library exhibit with the one in the gallery.

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Baumgarten’s works are a six-picture series of the artist’s interpretation of Christ’s meeting with Mary Magdalene on Easter.

The first paintings depict realistic nude torsos. The series progresses to abstract representations.

“The whole controversy is pretty ridiculous,” said Baumgarten, who is working on a doctorate in art and theology.

Baumgarten said that although she is “surprised and disappointed in Santa Paula,” she is happy with the support that she has received from her friends and from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where her husband is rector.

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