In October at the Loveland Museum/Gallery, Montana trucker Kathleen Folden attacked Enrique Chagoya's "The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals" with a crowbar because of a panel that appears to depict Jesus receiving oral sex -- an act for which she was given eighteen-months probation and a $2,991 fine a few weeks ago.
Not that she seems torn up with regret. On her website, GodGiveLove.com, Folden details her action in ways meant to make it seem holy indeed.
The tone of her "Loveland Museum Art Incident" narrative is set by the opening lines. Writes the fervent supporter of Mike Huckabee's 2008 bid for the presidency: "A man stood quietly sobbing in a corner of the museum. 'How could you... destroy ART!?' Tears of outrage and disbelief swim in his eyes. And there stands you, worldly America."
The devilish U.S. also allowed Andre Serrano's "Piss Christ" sculpture to be displayed and celebrated. This left Folden feeling "outraged" and "utterly livid," at least until teenagers in Australia "were given the honor of destroying it."
She got her own chance at making an artist pay for heresy after hearing the snippet of a news story about "Romantic Cannibals" while picking up a load of empty U.S. postal shipping trays in Spokane, Washington, she recounts. As luck would have it, she was on her way to Denver, and when she stopped in Casper, Wyoming, en route, she was able to do an Internet search and pinpoint the blasphemous piece's locale -- although not all the info she gleaned turned out to be correct. She thought the work was made of either stone or metal -- hence her stop in Cheyenne to pick up a crowbar.
Not that she was certain she could pull off such heavenly vandalism. "My knees were unsteady and I asked God if I was indeed the right person for the job," she admits. But apparently faith in the Big Guy, combined with a "Tougher Than Nails" T-shirt that helped her draw strength from Jesus, did the trick.
At the museum, she notes that she hung around for 45 minutes to an hour in order to make sure she could do the deed without hurting anyone. Granted, while her weapon of justice was in flight, she wound up with a couple of minor scratches, even though the crowbar went through the item's glass display case "like butter," she reports. But she didn't mind, with her narrative announcing: "In the words of Mercy Me, 'Such a tiny offering, compared to Calvary. Nevertheless, I lay it at your feet.'"
Before long, Folden was indeed laying down, at the behest of police officers -- but not in the shape of a cross, as some reports had it. She also denies that she screamed anything. Instead, she merely told observers shouting to alert the cops, "Yes, call the police, I'm done," declared that Chagoya's creation wasn't art, and told someone who wanted to know why she'd done what she did, "It's NOT OK to hurt my God!"
Toward the end of the account, Folden offers praise to plenty of folks, including the anonymous stranger who paid her bail. But she goes all Old Testament on Loveland cultural services director Susan Ison and artwork owner Bud Shark, whose "eye for good art and discernment skills are lacking in any kind of substance at all," she believes, "and what little they have emit an offensive and foul odor." Then there's this:
Public opinion is always drawing lines. Free speech does not cover yelling "Fire" in crowded public places. We do not consider allowing money to be counterfeited. The public will voice their opposition to marketing pedophilia how-to books, airport security overstepping its bounds, and will express great empathy for a homosexual teen who kills himself after having a sex act published.
Where is the public outcry in God's defense? Are His feelings and honor less worthy than that of a troublemaker, counterfeiter, pedophile, air traveler or homosexual?
No word about whether Folden thinks someone should take a crowbar to them. Look below to see an image of "Romantic Cannibals" as a whole, along with a blow-up of the most controversial panel. Also on view -- a video report featuring protesters angrily expressing their opinion that Chagoya's piece constitutes sacrilegious pornography, not legitimate art.
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