Police chief orders small Iowa art gallery to hide woman's nipples in painting after town outcry
Painting by Tipton artist Hugh Stumbo (Screenshot/KCRG)

A painting depicting female nudity was intended to illustrate the conservative morality of a small town. But the painting itself has caused such a stir within said small town that its police asked it be taken down.

The painting, by Tipton, Iowa artist and gallery owner Hugh Stumbo, depicts female breasts and a gun in the foreground, with a smiling fisherman holding two fish and a church in the background, according to a photo posted online.

"On the one hand you had flower children, and sex, and violence, mainly in the urban areas," Stumbo told local KCRG, about the painting's meaning. "Then you had Tipton: simple, god-fearing, fishing people."

He told the station the police chief called him, telling him people were complaining and wanted the painting taken out of the front window of his gallery, Stumbo Art Galleries. For now, he's placed a T-shirt over the breasts.

The city's mayor, Shirley Kepford, told the station people have been saying that "this was not the kind of art that they wanted to see" on Tipton's Main Street.

Stumbo said the police chief told him there are currently no ordinances in place making the painting illegal.

But Kepford says if Stumbo leaves the painting in the window, the city may move to censor it. The city of 5,000 is hosting a celebration for its 175th anniversary and is expecting heavier-than-normal foot traffic along Main Street.

"It's just a matter of what kind of art do you want to have in your window,” Kepford told the station. "If the picture is not removed and there's more like it, we'll have to put something in place."

Watch the report from local KCRG here: