Enrique Chagoya is one of the Bay Area’s best known artists, with works in the National Gallery, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Jose Museum of Art. But Chagoya, who teaches art at Stanford, is also one of the most controversial, willing to take on hot button religious and social issues. One of his recent works, a series of lithographs entitled “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals,” tackles the sex abuse scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church. Some claim that it depicts Jesus and several other religious figures engaged in a sex act.
On Wednesday, a woman walked into the Loveland Art Museum in Colorado where the work is on display, shattered the Plexiglass protecting the work with a crowbar, and ripped up the work. A local art dealer who happened to be visiting was able to stop her before she did any more damage. The vandal was later identified as Kathleen Folden, a truck driver from Kalispell, Montana. She has since been released on $350 bail.
The display of the work at the museum has been the subject of considerable controversy, and a local councilmember tried to have the lithograph removed from the collection. Protesters had even gathered outside the museum, denouncing the “blasphemous” piece, but it was only on Wednesday that the protest turned into vandalism.
The act has been condemned by local officials, regardless of their attitudes toward the work itself. The local Loveland Connection writes that, “When situations of common disagreement turn to violence and destruction, no one wins.”
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