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Art criticism by crowbar

posted by jmcgee

There’s an update on that controversial art exhibit in Colorado:

A Montana woman has been charged with criminal mischief after allegedly taking a crowbar to a controversial art museum display in Colorado that critics say portrays Jesus Christ receiving oral sex from another man.

Kathleen Folden, 56, of Kalispell, Mont., was arrested Wednesday and accused of damaging the the 12-panel lithograph, “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals.”

The piece, on display since Sept. 11 at the tax-funded Loveland Museum Gallery in Loveland, Colo., includes several images of Jesus, including one in which he appears to be receiving oral sex from a man as the word “orgasm” appears beside Jesus’ head.

It has triggered protests and even calls to police by critics asking for an investigation into whether it violates a Colorado law that protects children from obscenity, the Loveland Reporter Herald reported. The city attorney determined it did not.

Witnesses told the Reporter-Herald that Folden entered the Loveland Museum Gallery, used a crowbar to break glass over the art and ripped the print.

Read more.



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pagansister

posted October 7, 2010 at 8:55 pm


Guess she will think twice before destroying the property of someone else. What did she accomplish besides getting arrested? Only more publicity for the piece of art that she tried to destroy. How the heck did she get into the museum with a crowbar? I would think that might be hard to hide.
The solution to those that believe from the reports that it is “obscene” don’t have to go and see it, or take their children to see it. What or who says anyone has to go to a museum to see anything? Nothing. Art is in the eyes of the beholder, and if one doesn’t think they will like a particular piece, fine, it isn’t required viewing. The city attorney didn’t agree that it broke any laws, thus the piece is still there, and hopefully it will be able to be repaired.



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Arnis

posted October 7, 2010 at 9:30 pm


File under disgusting, a blasphemous!



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Eka

posted October 7, 2010 at 10:38 pm


“Dear artists, …I too would like to make a cordial, friendly and impassioned appeal to you. You are the custodians of beauty: thanks to your talent, you have the opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement. Be grateful, then, for the gifts you have received and be fully conscious of your great responsibility to communicate beauty, to communicate in and through beauty!
…Through your art, you yourselves are to be heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity!”
BENEDICT XVI’S ADDRESS TO ARTISTS November, 2009
Read the whole thing!!
http://www.zenit.org/article-27631?l=english



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Sandra

posted October 7, 2010 at 11:28 pm


Deacon Kandra,
Is it that much of a sin in that I applaud this woman’s actions rather than be appalled by them?



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Panthera

posted October 8, 2010 at 6:37 am


I personally found the piece of ‘art’ (and I am using the term in the very loosest sense of the word) offensive, childish and reprehensible.
This, precisely this, is what liberal Christians mean when we say that we don’t want to end freedom of speech and freedom of worship in the US. That we oppose the creation of a state-endorsed religion.
A person who has no problem with destroying other people’s creations because she finds them offensive is not going to have any problem attacking and destroying the civil and human rights of those people, including other Christians, with whom she disagrees.
The teaparty, far-right Republicans and what Dr. Mohlers calls ‘conservative Christians’ all stand for a government run by their version of Christianity. Just, that Christianity has no place in it for either liberal Christians nor Catholics. Catholics who support these people are like children who have bathed in gasoline and found a book of matches to play with. Know-nothing party, anyone? This crowbar swinging lady is their direct descendant.
People should be careful what they wish for. This woman’s actions are precisely what ‘Christian values’ means for a lot of conservatives. We’ve gone down that road before in the US, back in the 1800’s. It didn’t end well then and it won’t now.



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Rudy

posted October 8, 2010 at 7:50 am


The so called “work of art” is a piece of provocation. The so called artist knows it and those who applaud him know it too. So then why act surprised when the mockery, provocation and contempt they show towards other people’s beliefs results in actions like this? How long is the elite going to keep mocking the beliefs of the heartland before violence erupts? Without approving the attack we have task these questions. Eventually people sow what they reap, what they have sown for decades.



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Michael

posted October 8, 2010 at 7:50 am


That, Panthera, or the artist simply got the response he was aiming for. You cannot be antagonistic and simply expect people to be cool with it: even the bullied kid is going to snap at some point and punch back. That’s not to comment on the legality or the morality of it. However, I don’t think this is the oppressive Christian conspiracy that you are making it to be. I don’t think we can draw a good parallel between what happened to this art and, lets say, iconoclasm or the assault on Michelangelo’s Pieta.



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Panthera

posted October 8, 2010 at 8:11 am


Michael,
Take a look, please at the comment posted by Rudy just before your comment at 7:50am.
Still want to maintain your defense?
That is precisely what I am talking about.
We have a case in front of the US Supreme Court right now which makes me want to run away and hide. Even Justice Scalia is furious about it. The First Amendment also protects exactly this sort of ‘art’, that sort of hatred.
It is very much worth noting that the people who claim most to be oppressed and under attack in the US – those whom Dr. Mohlers calls ‘conservative Christians’ are exactly those who are most exploiting their First Amendment rights to attack gays, artists, women who demand sovereignty over their own bodies. A fatal flaw, should they seize power in a very classically ironic sense.



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Panthera

posted October 8, 2010 at 8:25 am


Michael,
I am not an art critic, so I won’t discuss iconoclasm.
I was, however, in Italy just prior to and shortly after the attack on that Pieta. The sense of outraged violation even among those Italians, whom one would not normally associate with art or deeply religious expression, was palpable.
It was a disgusting act.
So was the action of this woman in Loveland.
No, I don’t much care for this ‘work’ of art, nor the artist. That is, however, irrelevant. Part of living in a civil society is tolerating free speech in manners of expression which one finds personally abhorrent, disgusting or very bad art.
You can’t have it both ways – as Heine said and Kästner repeated: Where they start with books, in the end it’s also people (sorry, RomCath, but since you’re the one who always demands I prove my assertions: Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen. (Almansor, 1823)
That’s the problem, here, Michael – you can’t have it both ways.



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RomCath

posted October 8, 2010 at 8:41 am


Panthera,
It seems you strongly defend the right of freedom of speech. Is that only when that speech coincides with your views? Does it also pertain to speaking out against same sex marriage and the destruction of life in the womb? Does the Tea Party have freedom of speech too? It seems most on the left have no problem with free speech unless it is critical of them. It seems you can’t say anything negative about the current administration or you are a racist. If you speak out against same sex marriage you are a homophobe.
Remember freedom of speech goes both ways.



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Panthera

posted October 8, 2010 at 8:53 am


RomCath,
While I formulate an answer to that, may I remind you of the Accord of Kandra from May 10, 2010? You do still have a copy, don’t you?



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ds0490

posted October 8, 2010 at 10:29 am


Rudy: “The so called “work of art” is a piece of provocation. The so called artist knows it and those who applaud him know it too. So then why act surprised when the mockery, provocation and contempt they show towards other people’s beliefs results in actions like this? How long is the elite going to keep mocking the beliefs of the heartland before violence erupts? Without approving the attack we have task these questions. Eventually people sow what they reap, what they have sown for decades.”
Rudy, if I didn’t know better I’d swear you were a member of the Taliban. The “provocation” argument is exactly the same argument used by bin Laden in defense of the 9/11 attacks. It is the same argument used by Scott Roeder in the murder of Dr. George Tiller.
Tell me, if provocation justifies a woman attacking and destroying a painting, does it also justify another person blowing up a building, setting fire to a structure, or murdering people?
Or is provocation only justified when it is your particular sacred cow being attacked?



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Rudy

posted October 8, 2010 at 11:47 am


I fought the Taliban. I hope you have done your part ds049. Thank you for the comparison.
Regards,
Rudy



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Panthera

posted October 8, 2010 at 11:48 am


RomCath,
We’ve been through this a billion times. Oh, right, O! humerless one, at least fifteen times of my certain recollection.
I am a firm believer in the First Amendment right to voice one’s opinions.
I do not regard every single opponent of Obama as necessarily being a racist.
Nor do I believe that every single, as Dr. Mohlers calls them “conservative Christian” is necessarily out to torture and murder me and my husband.
My father and husband are both devout Catholics (something you call rather haughtily and with much venom regularly into question, as if it were your decision). I tithe 10% of my pre-tax income through a Catholic order – their books are open and I know it all goes to aiding the elderly, the widowed, the orphaned. One of those silly concepts that long-haired, sandal wearing Jewish Rabi, good old what’s-his-name considered important enough to mention.
You, on the other hand, oppose my rights as a human and citizen. You seek to limit my First, Tenth and Fourteenth amendment rights. You denigrate expressions of religious freedom in the most opprobrious terms and place conservative American political goals far, far above those of the Catholic church when the two are in conflict.
You also make considerable efforts to minimize the importance of the Jews murdered by the Nazis while defending, blindly, a pope of whom neither JPII nor B16 are completely satisfied had done all he could and should have done to shelter.
You have also demonstrated that your knowledge of perverse English expressions far exceeds mine.
Stop with the nastiness, already. Remember, please – this blog is read by an awful lot of non-Christians. What part of your animus towards me – and it is true animus, directed clearly at me as a fellow Christian – can possibly show these non-Christians why we place our faith in Christ?
Goodness, if a non-Catholic were to read your comments, to what extend would they find the Catholic church a welcoming place?
[Pan...you're tiptoeing over the line again. Please: rein it in. You can start by eliminating any and all comments that sweepingly ascribe motives to other commenters, or accuse them of actions for which you have no certifiable proof. Finally, your anger and defensiveness are not attractive and do nothing to advance your arguments -- and, in fact, they make you look worse. I'm trying to be fair here. But you're making it hard. Dcn. G.]



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kiro

posted October 8, 2010 at 11:52 am


ds0490, not only is the piece provocation, it’s also hate.
Desecrating a religious symbol is hate. Some places class it as a hate crime.
The problem here is that secular humanists honestly believe Christianity deserves to be the target of what would clearly be classed as hate if the target were someone they didn’t….well, *hate*….



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Panthera

posted October 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm


Fair enough, Deacon Kandra. I grow weary of the ceaseless attacks from RomCath.
Given the enormous potential for divisiveness current threads on the blog post, I think I’ll just take a little break.



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Michael

posted October 8, 2010 at 12:30 pm


“Take a look, please at the comment posted by Rudy just before your comment at 7:50am. Still want to maintain your defense?”
How funny! It sounds like we were thinking the same things at the same time. And yeah, I think that Rudy pretty much was saying the same thing that I was. As for a defense, I wasn’t really defending what she did as much as exclaim that the woman’s actions are not really all that surprising. When you try to provoke a response from people, for better or ill, you usually get one. You are putting words into my mouth, and I’d ask you to stop. In fact, to quote myself directly:
“That’s not to comment on the legality or the morality of it.”
“It was a disgusting act. So was the action of this woman in Loveland.”
Again, I do not think you can draw a comparison, but that is my opinion. The person who attacked the Pieta’ did so because of mental illness, so conversations about Freedom of Speech, are not applicable. Furthermore, and you may disagree, the Pieta’ was not a piece created to be provocative. Was what the woman did in Loveland disgusting? Depends on who you ask. Was it legal? Nope.



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RomCath

posted October 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm


Panthera,
I asked you a simple question regarding freedom of speech but you qualified your answer with “necessarily” and “every single”. You either support freedom of speech for all or none–even the Westboro Baptist Church. Even the right of the RC Church to say that same sex marriage is as Benedict said “insidious”.
I do not condone the Holocaust as you implied. I find your slanderous remarks about Pius XII scandalous.
Your claimed ignorance of “perverse English expressions” is less than credible given your linguistic skills which you so often remind us of on here. I guess you weren’t following the media after that Maddow person used it for the first time. Another lovely person.
Finally, your use of “devout Catholic” really cheapens that expression to render it just about useless. A devout Catholic strives each day to live up to the Gospel, the teaching of the Church and is repentant of sin.



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Panthera

posted October 8, 2010 at 7:58 pm


Deacon Kandra,
When I take a break – something needful, I don’t question it, I would very much appreciate it if you would ask RomCath to lay off his attacks on my father and my husband.
Thank you.



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted October 8, 2010 at 8:12 pm


I’m amazed that noone here seems to have noticed one very important line in the story: The art museum is tax-payer funded. That means city residents there have every right to demand that works of so-called art they find repulsive not be displayed on their dime. The courts have ruled time and again that artists (or any others) don’t have a right to the tax-payers money for purposes the public may not want their money used for in situations like this. The art work garbage does not have to be illegal as some have fraudulently claimed to protect the museum’s decision to display it.
Somehow in debates over art attacks on Christianity through publicly funded avenues, the media turns it into a First Amendment issue–it is not. It is a taxpayer issue–and that includes whether the public wants pornographic books in their publicly funded library. Yet the art and library bureaucrats that feed on the public trough get the media to be their stalking horse to grant them powers that under the law are not totally theirs–especially if the public objects. Every year librarians put on displays complaining about books THEY believe should never have been banned from public libraries. But how many books that are positive books about orthodox Christianity or traditional Catholicism have been passed over –censored– from the shelves of public libraries by them. Sometime look at the new book section of your public library and in many you will see they are nothing but propaganda sections for “liberal” religion–which means the librarians used their powers over our tax dollars to censor out opposing points of view.



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pagansister

posted October 8, 2010 at 9:54 pm


Tax payers money also means that those tax payers that want to see the art displayed have the right to see it. No one forces anyone to go into the building to see what they think might be objectionable to them.



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Sevanclaig

posted October 9, 2010 at 12:20 am


First I heard of this story, but my reaction to actually having seen its public display probably would have been to take a crowbar to the whole taxpayer supported building.
“Oh, no!,” you may exclaim in horror, “that would be uncivil.” save the free speech and mohammed cartoon tripe because I find it far less civility in an obviously purposeful and malicious accosting of a common faith amongst those who actually paid for its venue. Since when do we as a society elevate “art” -of any subject matter- above behaviors grounded in common decency amongst our citizenry, anyway?



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Kiro

posted October 9, 2010 at 6:23 am


pagansister, I wonder if you would feel the same way if taxpayer money were being used to pervert pagan symbols into deliberately obscene messages of contempt for what pagans believe?
You can have tolerance, respect, diversity (and outrage at hate), or you can have pure freedom of speech. Which do you choose?
The choice of having it both ways really isn’t as much an option as people want to believe.



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Sevanclaig (again)

posted October 9, 2010 at 9:29 am


so called pagansister commenter states, as does the city attorney here, that no laws were broken in the display of this so-called art. that is not only untrue, it is ridiculous to even believe so. Ironically, I would venture a bet that said commenter and the defenders of the public funded viewing of the painting are also big proponents of hate crime legislation- against their own group, that is. The deference to our Christ in this manner is bigotry. Would the city attorney, the museum, the supportive commenters here defend even a much less provocative painting depicting their presidents African American wife in a Mamie outfit in the white house kitchen? There are probably better examples, but I am not the sort of person who can easily think of hateful, bigoted slurs. I would bet however, that a day spent with the person who put paint to canvas and created this work of crap would reveal they to be much less of an artiste than a purposeful bigot. That is why the painting should come down and those involved with its display, prosecuted, or at the very least fired.



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted October 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm


Sorry pagansister–the courts have ruled–we are still a democracy where majority rules on issues such as this. The right the minority has ( hopefully it is only a minority that likes this garbage) is to be able to display their “art” in any non-taxpayer funded venue they choose and free from government interference (as long as proper permits are issued). Noone has a “right” to the taxpayers money upon demand.
Although we Christians have been so cowed in the public square into not carrying out electoral retribution against those pols that side with those who trash us it encourages them to defend using our tax money to attack our Faith and lie about it being a “right.”



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pagansister

posted October 10, 2010 at 6:04 pm


Kiro: IF indeed someone decided to do as you suggested, pervert Pagan symbols into something obscene (and some probably have) I would have the choice of either going to see it or not. So do the folks who are making the fuss about the picture discussed above. If my taxpayer money is used, that’s fine. I’d really rather my money go to art than to support bridges to nowhere or wars we should never have started. (but if we were foolish enough to go in, the soldiers need the best equipment to do what the government has sent them to do). I choose both of your choices. It is possible.
Yep, Deacon Bresnahan, we’re still a democracy. Has your taxpayer money ever gone where you didn’t approve? I’m sure it has, but being a democracy, things like that happen, as well as money going to things you probably approve of. Don’t go and see the painting. I haven’t figured out how hard that is to understand. I don’t go to movies I’m sure I won’t like (yes,I know that isn’t taxpayer funded) but apparently you would like to prevent folks who want to see the art from going by not supporting the museum.
Art, like politics (and religion) are subjects with a lot of disagreement, but in this country, we have the right to do so.



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pagansister

posted October 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm


sevanclaig(again):
Those involved with the display should be prosecuted or at least fired? What charge would they be arrested on? They didn’t break any laws. Talk about a waste of taxpayer’s money. Fired? For what? Because some folks objected to the display?



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Kiro

posted October 10, 2010 at 6:26 pm


They should be fired for promoting hate.
If it were Martin Luther King, Jr. being depicted in obscene ways, would we tolerate this? I think not.
Time for the double standard to end. Either hate is a crime or it’s not.



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pagansister

posted October 10, 2010 at 8:37 pm


Kiro: Promoting hate? It isn’t a “hate crime”. No one is physically hurt. Mentally maybe. No one has to go and view it. That is so simple. What is the difference in this attempt at censorship than those groups that want to censor books, try to tell libraries what they can buy etc., because they find them unacceptable,(Huck Finn, or Harry Potter for example) or those that want to burn books, (as has been done in some countries) and IMO this is no different. Maybe the museum should rate it’s displays like TV. S,V for this one, and M for mature. Then folks can decide if they want to see it.



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Kiro

posted October 11, 2010 at 8:46 am


Pagansister, I suppose you think cross burning isn’t a hate crime either, if one has to be physically hurt in order for it to qualify.
One standard for gays – who have successfully claimed that a gay pride rainbow with a red circle and cross through it constitutes “hate” – and another for Christians, eh?



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Kiro

posted October 11, 2010 at 8:56 am


As for your argument about censorship, I differentiate between Nazi style censorship – where the goal is to remove the book from circulation – vs. the sort of censorship practiced by schools and libraries, which is not primarily about making the book not exist any more, but is in fact primarily about controlling the tone, atmosphere, or environment of the taxpayer-funded institution.
Imagine I purchase a book or set of books for the library that is as nasty to gays or Jews or blacks, as Harry Potter is to muggles (and of course everyone knows “muggle” is a euphemism for middle class Protestant conservatives).
Remember that Harry actually went so far as to physically abuse his muggle relatives. Under current domestic violence laws in my state, if I did to my relatives what Harry did to his, I’d be a felon.
As long as libraries and public schools are taxpayer funded, there is always going to be a boundary between the individual and the state. It’s not the same kind of censorship at all, because the goal is not to take the book out of circulation, but only to restrict what “our community” with “our taxpayer money” is distributing.
Sorry if you can’t see the difference, but I think the difference is significant indeed. (And I have no doubt you would too, if taxpayer funded money started distributing books aimed at children that villify, say, pagans, with as much ugliness and hatred as has been aimed at Christians through the library).
Or a book of great literary merit that just happens to have a derogatory name for “gay person” or “jewish person” or “muslim person” used over and over again, on every page, in a book that is ultimately about whether “those people” qualify as human beings. Just because it is of great literary merit does not mean it is appropriate for children, who are not sophisticated to understand historical context, irony, and other adult-level literary devices.



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