Conservative Icon Defends My First Amendment Right and Together We Give a Lesson On Civil Discourse.
Last week was to say the least – surreal. My painting “The Truth” has once again created a media circus, drawing fire from the Religious Right demanding I remove it from display at Boston’s Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery where it’s currently part of the “Artists On The Stump – The Road To The White House 2012” exhibition. This kind of craziness is nothing new for me. The hysteria has happened before, when four years ago I announced I would debut the painting at New York City’s Union Square, Unfortunately, thousands of hate filled emails and threats of bussed in protestors convinced me to acquiesce to my family’s wish that I cancel the exhibit for my own safety.
There was however, one thing that happed last week that I couldn’t see coming in a million years. Through the firestorm of controversy over my painting the one person to come to my defense was the person I would least expect … Glenn Beck, the Grand Jester of conservatism. We are, no doubt, the oddest of odd couples. My liberal leaning art generally outrages conservatives, and no one has drawn the ire of liberals more than Glenn Beck. Yet in his own grandiloquent way, the conservative rebel rouser devoted a show to defending this liberal artist’s first amendment right. He also afforded me the opportunity on his show to air my thoughts and show my art. And then something even more surrealistic happened. After a little bit of a rough start, two people with diametrically opposed political perspectives, whose work might have helped fuel the country’s divisive atmosphere, demonstrated that we can engage in respectful and civil discourse. It really shouldn’t be considered significant, but in the current political environment it’s an example that a lot of our elected and religious leaders, pundits and the American public in general would do well take notice of. It’s one small step for civility, if not unity.
You might think it’s hypocritical for two men whose work has helped raise blood pressures and spread the partisan condition to admonish people for suffering from it. Glenn took responsibility for his roles on the show suggesting in essence that he and I do what we do as a way to wake people up and get them involved in discussing the issues, and admitted that unfortunately it sometimes pushes the conversation to an ugly place.
Some say my painting is a destructive influence but if it was the impetus for the opportunity to show the world (or a least subscribers to Mr. Beck’s program) that in the midst of all the hysteria, two politically opposing forces can come together to carry on a civil discourse, I say maybe something good came from my painting after all.
You can watch the complete interview on my Press page.