Lawsuit Brought by Central Utah Art Center Alleges Censorship Behind Eviction

Brooke Adams reports in the Salt Lake Tribune that the Central Utah Art Center has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Ephraim, Utah, where it is based, alleging that the city government cut off funding and evicted the center as a way to censor exhibitions. After the art center mounted “Camera Vivant,” which included screenings of two short Jack Smith features, the Ephraim mayor sent an email saying that the exhibition went against his “values and beliefs.” City Manager Regan Bolli also sent a message registering his “disgust with the ‘art’ on view at the Central Utah Art Center.” He went on to add that he was “saddened that a historic building built through sacrifice and faith by Ephraim’s pioneer founders would be used to display such offensive items.” Another show, “SuperHUMAN,” drew censure for artist Chitra Ganesh’s depictions of iconography from Hindu and Buddhist traditions. A mere days after Bolli sent another email, this time saying that “SuperHUMAN” was “not appreciated,” the city last summer announced that it would be canceling the CUAC’s $30,000 in annual funding, and demanding that it leave the mill that it occupied, according to the art center, which noted: “The purported bases for CUAC’s eviction are entirely pretextual, and lay only the thinnest veil over the city’s fundamental objective of censorship.”