MEMBERS of the local arts scene have expressed their disappointment at the approach taken by the Bundaberg Arts Festival committee, which they believe has publicly "shamed" the vision-impaired artist who had his work withdrawn for being too racy.
One of Dennis Mealor's festival entries, a nude photograph of a mature-aged woman titled Viva Italia, was suddenly pulled on the opening night of the Bundaberg Arts Festival last weekend.
After the NewsMail published the story with Mr Mealor on Wednesday, exhibition-goers were quick to notice signs going up in and around the Civic Centre of Mr Mealor's front page photo taped up beside another sign that said "shame".
Tomas O'Malley went to view the exhibition this week and said he did not think the posters were "particularly professional".
"I felt it had put a sour note on the exhibition," he said.
"I felt it was a little unfair the way they placed the photo of Dennis next to a big poster saying 'shame'."
Another guest at the opening night, who is also actively involved in the art scene, said it should have been left to the public to make their own judgment about the photograph.
"I think a lot of the organising committee is quite conservative and I think they made a judgment call on behalf of the community and I don't think it was their decision to make," she said.
And the man in the middle of the controversy, Mr Mealor, said he felt the actions of the committee were only one thing - "disgusting".
"I can take fair criticism, but to just use words like 'shame' and 'one man's whinge', is totally puerile and is attacking my character," he said.
"I feel like a naughty school boy being told off."
Mr Mealor said the matter could have been avoided had he received a phone call prior to opening night.
"Instead, this storm in a teacup - my nude photo - has been blown into a cyclone in a barrel," he said.
"This sort of decision affects all artists in the long run and stifles their creativity with a constant shadow of self-censorship."
The NewsMail tried to contact festival president Wendy Francis, but she refused to answer questions and hung up.
"If the NewsMail would care to send a reporter down to look at the exhibition ... they would be more than welcome," she said.
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