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Letters to the Editor

Rather than censorship…dialogue

First off, kudos to Pastor Rod and the Neighborhood Congregational Church for inviting Allyson Allen and her quilts to the Bridge Hall space. I’m hoping this wasn’t the only invitation from community leaders.

The recent removal of the art exhibit at the Wells Fargo bank in Laguna Beach raised serious concerns among many of us as artists and members of the community. Upon reflection, I would like to suggest that both CAP and Wells Fargo missed an excellent opportunity to provide education and communication about censorship and the role of the arts and community arts organizations in today’s divisive and polarized society.

CAP states that its mission is “To increase the visibility and appreciation of art and serve as a catalyst for arts education.” It would seem that this event would have been an excellent opportunity to fulfill its mission on several levels.

What if, instead of pulling that pre-approved and city-funded exhibit, the key players, i.e., the manager of Wells Fargo Bank and the Board of CAP had engaged in a discussion to explore ways to allow a dialogue of the concerns/issues?

–What if the artist had been invited and agreed to a session that was open to community members, as well as artists, CAP members, etc. to review her focus and purpose for the exhibit, and a chance to respond to the bank’s clients who were uncomfortable with the show?

–What if Wells Fargo had designed signage that informed its clients that the show, on the second floor, was designed to address current political/social issues with which they might disagree, but that the bank, at the corporate level, had approved the show and felt it was of such a quality and integrity that they were committed to showing the work.

–What if CAP had assessed its own membership, prior to pulling that show, to get their opinions and recommendations as to where or how the show should be handled if WF insisted on pulling it?

Laguna Beach has several significant community arts organizations. Wasn’t it possible that at least one or more of them would have come to CAP’s side to support them? Are we all so wary of dissent that we won’t raise our voices when this type of censorship is allowed?

Surely we are capable of finding alternatives to ensuring that this type of censorship won’t become a common practice in a city dedicated to the arts.  Please reassure me that we can resolve such issues without backing down and out from commitments that were made in good faith with an accomplished artist such as Allyson Allen.


Carole Zavala

CZ Associates

Laguna Beach


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