An art show featuring works inspired by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been canceled without explanation, the local press reports.
Willo North Gallery spent months planning the politically tinged "Joe and Jan Show", but unexpectedly closed it days before opening night. The show included works from artists including Jeff Falk, Annie Lopez, Irma Sanchez and others.
Some of the art was clearly critical of Arpaio and Brewer. A piece by Sanchez shows Arpaio's face on a welcome mat that visitors step on as they enter the exhibit, The Arizona Republic reports. The opening invitation features Sheriff Arpaio wearing a colorful poncho, a Mexican sombrero, and a confused expression.
Former curator Robert Pela told the Phoenix New Times that the owner of the gallery, Kristen Shears, canceled the show after he turned in his resignation.
"Three days before an opening for a show that was put on the schedule and has been in the works for more than eight months is not the time to cancel that opening," Pela said, according to the Phoenix New Times. "But I suppose everyone has their own agenda."
Shears directed local media to her lawyer.
Pela told The Arizona Republic that "everyone wants to make this about censorship," but that he "can't say that conclusively."
The controversy at the Willo North Gallery doesn't mean the show won't see the light of day. Several other local galleries have wanted to step in and hold the exhibit, Pela says.
Brewer and Arpaio are two of the most controversial politicians in the state, having both become national figures after staking out hardline positions on illegal immigration.
Opponents launched a recall effort against Arpaio last week. He has held his elected position for the last 20 years.
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