Ashland council member responds to debate with nude gallery show

An Ashland City Council member and his partner will hold a nude show at their downtown art gallery next month in response to an attempt to ban nudity in Ashland.

"The Nude" exhibit will feature traditional nude portraits and conceptual art involving live, naked people.

"We feel that the nude ban is not only an attack on freedom of expression but also an attack on the human body itself," said council member Eric Navickas. "We wanted to have a show to celebrate the nude body and differentiate the nude body from anything indecent."

The City Council is scheduled to vote on Jan. 5 whether to ban nudity in the city. Council members discussed the issue at a meeting Tuesday, but ran out of time before they could come to a consensus.

According to Navickas, the council is divided between those who would like to ban nudity within 200 feet of school zones and those who would like to ban nudity outright in the city. Navickas, who has participated in naked protests in the past, originally favored legalizing nudity throughout Ashland but now says he is willing to compromise and ban nudity near school zones.

"Because of the strong community response to this, I feel a compromise is due," he said.

Nudity is legal in Ashland except in the downtown area and public parks, where people are required to cover their genitals.

Earlier this year, some city officials and residents began to call for a ban on nudity after two men were spotted walking naked near schools.

Navickas and partner Amy Godard are hoping to create a dialogue in the community about nudity with their show — not incite controversy, they said.

"It's not like we're trying to polarize anything," Godard said. "We're trying to pay homage to the nude, which is a strong tradition in the arts."

The exhibit will be held Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the MAda Shell Gallery, 27 1/2 E. Main St. No. 7, on Ashland's plaza.

— Ashland Daily Tidings

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