Enrique Chagoya Lithograph Damaged by Crowbar-Wielding Woman Angered by Relgious Depictions

Every once in a while, you get a reminder of how wonderful and complicated a thing art can be. Though often it comes at the expense of something negative happening. Such is the case in the small town of Loveland, Colorado, where the local museum, the Loveland Museum Gallery, is in the middle of running an exhibition called “The Legend of Bud Shark & His Indelible Ink,” a collection of prints assembled/curated by the famed printer, publisher and Colorado resident, Bud Shark (who donated the exhibit and therefore “no tax dollars were used”). Included in the exhibition was a beautiful paneled lithograph by artist Enrique Chagoya, “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals,” which according to Fox “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” (Chagoy’s own description of the piece is far more accurate and far less inflammatory). Somehow, possibly due to some online outrage that caught fire and then the local, then national media picked it up (see the quote above), protests and things like failed calls from a councilman to have the piece removed revved up to a full boil. The final act came this week when a woman from Montana showed up to the gallery with a crowbar and smashed a cover protecting the piece and then tore Chagoya’s print. She was arrested immediately and is now facing felony charges and fines. The artist and Bud Shark are both understandably upset by what’s transpired, Chagoya stressing that it was his First Amendment rights that were attacked and violence is hardly a teaching of Jesus, who this woman was presumably trying to protect from a piece of printed paper. So while charges have been filed, the museum isn’t going to rehang the print, and a piece of art has been damaged, if art’s purpose is to engage the public, then it feels like it was a life well-served.