ENGLEWOOD - A Bergen County art gallery has filed a federal lawsuit over a city code violation it received for displaying artwork of a partially nude woman in its store window.
The Borghi Fine Art Gallery in Englewood sued last week, saying its constitutional rights were violated when it was issued a violation with fines of $1,250 per day and the threat of up to 90 days in jail over artwork showing a woman's bare buttocks.
Owner Laura Borghi said city code enforcement officer Walter Deptuch asked her to remove the artwork from painter Tom Dash -- an ink jet collage of photos of two women painted over in acrylic paint -- from the window of her store in January. When she refused, she says, she was issued a violation.
The code approved in 1992 says nude images have to be kept in interior rooms not visible from public areas. Borghi said that it's not possible for her to create an extra room in her three-story gallery and that she shouldn't have to.
"I don't think that painting is vulgar. It's not pornographic. It's a beautiful piece of artwork so why would I not want to show it?” asks Borghi.
Borghi's attorney, Brian Bernstein, said the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions prevent the city from censoring artwork and he's confident Borghi will win the suit.
“A 17-year-old high school art class could not come here, even if [the painting] was in the room, because the ordinance prohibits anyone below the age of 18,” Bernstein says.
Bernstein says that he thinks that the ordinance was made to make sure video stores kept a separate room for X-rated content
The lawsuit was first reported by Courthouse News Service.
The Englewood city attorney tells News 12 New Jersey that officials are now looking into the ordinance
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.