A view of the controversial 12-panel lithograph by Enrique Chagoya, titled “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals” (2004) (image via 5280.com)

Kathleen Folden, 56, of Kalispell, Montana, has been charged with attacking an art work by California-based artist Enrique Chagoya with a crowbar while it was on display in the Loveland Museum Gallery in Loveland, Colorado. The 12-panel lithograph, according to the artist’s statement to FoxNews, depicts “no nudity, or genitals, or explicit sexual contact” and portrays “a dressed woman, a religious icon’s head, a man showing his tongue, and a skull of a Pope in the upper right corner of the controversial page.”

Kathleen Folden is charged with the attack on Chagoya’s lithograph (image via www.ci.loveland.co.us)

Critics of the work argue that it represents Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the son of God, as receiving oral sex from another man. FoxNews gives its own interpretation of the work and describes it as having “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.” The attack took place last Wednesday at 4pm.

Chagoya’s work is part of an 82-print exhibit by 10 artists who have worked with Colorado printer Bud Shark. “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals” (2004), FoxNews says, has been the subject of protests this week, though critics have been vocal about their disdain for the work since the exhibition opened on September 11, 2010.

The artist explains that “I did not make a picture of Christ. I used symbols as one would use words in a sentence to critique corruption of the sacred by religious institutions.”

A police spokesman told FoxNews that the work has a tear in the panel with the depiction of Christ, though the Museum’s website explains that the damage was much more severe:

The controversial artwork that was destroyed yesterday by a Montana woman is no longer on display at the Loveland Museum/Gallery.  The remaining portions of the piece were removed by police shortly after the incident and are being kept as evidence.

Photo of about 40 protesters outside the Loveland Museum on October 1, 2010. (photo by John Prieto/ The Denver Post)

The Museum also says it will not replace the damaged print. The report also details the attack:

Using a crowbar, she then broke the Plexiglas that protected the image and tore up the artwork. She cut herself in the process of doing so.

FoxNews spoke to Chagoya who believes the incident attacked the First Amendment:

“Should we as artists, or any free-thinking people, have to be subjected to fear of violent attacks for expressing our sincere concerns? I made a collage with a comic book and an illustration of a religious icon to express the corruption of something precious and spiritual … There is no nudity, or genitals, or explicit sexual contact shown in the image. There is a dressed woman, a religious icon’s head, a man showing his tongue, and a skull of a Pope in the upper right corner of the controversial page. I did not make a picture of Christ. I used symbols as one would use words in a sentence to critique corruption of the sacred by religious institutions.”

Chaguya’s takes aim at a number of religious figures, including Muhammad, who is depicted here with prostitute pigs (via blazingcatfur.blogspot.com)

The chatter on the Museum’s Facebook page demonstrates how galvanizing the issue is as Museum supporters are chiming in to say how “atrocious” the incident is and how they are “sick and tired of the religious zealots cramming their baloney down [their] throats,” while critics are posting that it is “unconscionable that someone can produce a piece of art that places Jesus Christ in a position He would never have been in and it is applauded.”

Christians seem to be the only ones objecting to the art work, though Chagoya’s work also includes other images that could be viewed as offensive, including an unveiled image of Mohammad kneeling in front of a bed topped by pigs dressed in a way associated with prostitutes.

One right-wing blog, in what can be construed as an attempt to stoke the fires of Islamophobia, posted the Muslim image and wrote:

Let’s see what the “hypocrites who deem it ok to demean Christian symbols” do now that Mohammed has been found consorting with Pig Hookers in the same exhibit. If Enrique Chagoya and the Loveland Museum thought they had problems before wait till the Muslim hordes pick up on this.

There have been no reports of protests from Muslim groups.

It’s obvious this man hasn’t even seen the art work he is protesting. (image via Denver Post)

Remarkably, one of the protest signs being carried outside the Museum, and spotted by the Denver Post earlier this week, asks, “Would U Depict Mohommed [sic] In This Manner?” and a Letter to the Editor to the Denver Post displayed the same confusion and asks, “Would they dare to display the same work with Mohammed portrayed as Jesus has been?” The sign and letter suggests that many of the protesters are unaware of the realities of the art work they are protesting and are simply rallying behind an ideological cause based on second-hand knowledge.

You can watch a local news report about the protests here.

The Denver Post has an update on the attacker and they report:

Folden, 56, targeted “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals” for religious reasons, according to the arrest affidavit, released Thursday.

Folden, arrested by Loveland police Wednesday afternoon at the Loveland Museum/Gallery, faces a felony charge of criminal mischief and a fine of up to $2,000.

On Thursday, Folden made her first court appearance and a Larimer County magistrate judge granted her release on $350 bond. The money was posted by a person who asked to remain anonymous.

The comments on this Denver Post story are notable in that they continue to parrot the false notion that the artist was only targeting Christianity and one commenter writes, “I wish they would have the guts to put up the same so called art of Mohamed [sic] and see what happens to it.”

A view of a copy of the controversial lithograph, which is available through the George Adams Gallery and is listed on Artnet

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

29 replies on “Art Work Attacked in Colorado Museum”

  1. it also strikes me as strange that free speech crusaders sometimes construe their protective duty as a right to destroy something (smash a print, say, or burn a Qur’an).

    1. I’m still laughing at the fact that they don’t realize he’s making fun of all religions and the protesters sounds like the fanatics they disparage elsewhere.

        1. Remember the murder of Dr. Tiller? Or the Christian militia that was thwarted? How about the US-based Army of God? More here

          1. oh no, there’s muslim violence “around the world!” what a disaster!

            but this is america, and here in america the muslims act polite and charming whilst the christians act a bit unfortunate. the christian excuse of “hey, it’s okay to be the biggest dicks in the country because at least there are other dicks worldwide” is kind of thin. it’s disingenuous and intellectually lazy.

          2. The muslims act polite. Right. Yes the majority of muslims act polite here in America, as do the majority of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, even art bloggers act polite here.

            Lets “go to the videotape” as it were, and discover who is really being intellectually lazy here. Because at some point, your beloved tolerance stops being tolerant and just turns into forced ignorance, and will get you beheaded.

            Fort Hood: 13 dead
            University of North Carolina SUV Attacker: 9 injured: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_Reza_Taheri-azar_SUV_attack
            Sami Al Arians Palestinian Cell in Florida:

            El Al Counter: 4 Dead http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Los_Angeles_Airport_shooting
            The Washington DC Snipers: 10 dead http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beltway_sniper_attacks

            The list goes on. But you are right. Mostly here everyone is well behaved. But globally, and hey, we’re a connected world these days right, Islamic violence really shines with Terror attacks around the world including London, Madrid, Bali, Russia, China, Indonesia, East Africa, the Middle East, the Caucusus, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc etc etc..

            I am not excusing violence of any kind by Christians or Jews or Hindus or even Muslims. Simply asking people to stop willfully deluding themselves.


          3. You sound paranoid. Like the big bad Muslims are out to get us. The Muslim community is as diverse as any other large community. Characterizing them as a monolith is dangerous and inaccurate.

          4. I don’t see the Muslim community as a monolith. I was very clearly
            talking about islamic radicals who kill in the name of their religion.
            Every single day. In every imaginable way All over the world.

          5. I think your mention of them on this post was a little out of place. Why not talk about all radicals? Like the woman who is the main focus of the story, and is not Muslim.

  2. So Chagoya admits to creating pornographic depictions of Mohammed, in a piece entitled “The misadventures of Mohammed” which is currently on display at the Loveland Museum.

    Which begs the question: How is it that the MSM and our craven political class were happy to fan the flames of Muslim Faux Outrage over Terry Jones and his “burn a koran” stunt yet have remained silent over Enrique Chagoya’s pornographic depictions of Mohammed? Could it be that the story would expose the hypocrisy of the MSM’s LibLeft narrative that hopes to exploit and condemn “right wing religious intolerance”? Could it be our MSM & Politicos lack the stomach & principles required to defend the “freedom of expression” of a left wing artiste charged with offending Islam?

      1. I agree Fox has been equally at fault having missed the opportunity to discuss the Mohammed component of the story when it was initially reported as I pointed out in my original post. They did however redeem themselves somewhat on Friday last the quotes contained in the Mike Adams column are pulled from a Fox interview.

          1. i dont think these incidents can be understood or fully appreciated for
            their overall meaning without historical and global context

            i agree with you yesterday saying that my bringing up radical islamists was
            out of place, and it was, but I do think that the context is important

  3. Well egg meet face as they say. Mike Adams column, which I cited in my comment above is satire. Chagoya has never painted Mohammed that I am aware of and the quotes attributed to him in the Adams piece are of course false.

    I have only myself to blame for this. . Blogger Sleeping Beastly has set us straight http://sleepingbeastly.blogspot.com/2010/10/dont-fall-for-it.html

    Mike Adams responded to my e-mail asking confirmation that his piece was satire :

    Adams, Mike to me show details 4:41 PM (19 minutes ago)

    Pure satire!


  4. I bet Chagoya tipped the Christians off. If I were him I’d even give them a kick back. The media attention is so good for his career.

  5. Are you aware that after being contacted by and having had email discussions with with a Pastor at a local Evangelical Church in Loveland (in which he explained his “intent” of his artwork that was destroyed), Chagoya has now agreed to paint a “loving” painting of Jesus for FREE for their Church? The Artist, victim of the crime, now provides his work for FREE to a Christian congregation. Story is here: http://cbs4denver.com/news/loveland.jesus.church.2.1966811.html

  6. I don’t understand the mindset of people like Chagoya. Why would I want to mock any religion just so I could be noticed and get publicity. If art is offensive just for the sake of being offensive I don’t know why it should be seen as artistic. I suppose as long as people pay to see this kind of art or buy the prints it will continue.If the artist is truly gifted he will not need to resort to publicity stunts.

  7. Dang, she beat me to it, I was behind on the news. I would have liked to smash that crap up and tear into it. Anyone who defends this is sick, sick person in need of a soul.

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