Nacken (Painting by Alv Wilenius)

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Date: 1994

Region: North America

Subject: Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Painting

Artist: Alv Wilenius

Confronting Bodies: Local citizen, sheriff's office

Dates of Action: 1994

Location: Guerneville, California

Description of Artwork: Depiction of a male nude, water-dwelling, Scandinavian mythical spirit called Nackens reaching up from a pool seemingly pulling another nude male into the water. The spirit's hands and head were said to be in close proximity to the other man's penis.

The Incident: A local hair dresser complained to the gallery owners that the painting was obscene and would be offensive to tourists and harmful to children. The gallery owners took no action. Local police asked gallery owner, Khysie Horn, to remove Wilenius' painting, citing that it violated state obscenity laws. At first Horn removed the piece, though later put it back in place with a cloth covering the questionable area.

Results of Incident: After covering the piece Horn wrote Assistant District Attorney, J. Michael Mullins, questioning the obscenity of the painting. Mullins determined that the piece was not obscene because "one of the key elements is whether or not a particular piece of material lacks 'serious literary and artitic value'." Following this announcement the cloth was removed from the piece. .

Source: NCAC: based on a report in "Artistic Freedom Under Attack" Vol. 3 1995, provided by People for the American Way