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Woman attacks artwork with crowbar in Colorado

Bryan Alaspa's picture

A Montana woman has been placed under arrest and charged with first-degree criminal mischief after taking a crowbar into a Colorado art gallery and destroying a piece of artwork on display there. Kathleen Folden is an over-the-road truck driver who arrived at the gallery after protesters left from the from of the gallery with a crowbar in hand. She entered the gallery and began smashing a plexi glass display that had a controversial piece by artist Enrique Chagoya.

The artwork has been the subject of protests and outrage by religious groups from around the country. The media has reported that the art piece, named “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals,” shows Jesus receiving oral sex from another man. The gallery has been receiving nearly-daily protests from local religious groups claiming the artwork is offensive and obscene,.

Folden arrived at the gallery on Wednesday. While wearing a T-shirt that said “My Saviour is Tough as Nails” she waited in the parking lot until the knot of protesters left for the day. Then she walked into the gallery carrying a crowbar in her hand. She then attacked the plexi glass display that housed the artwork while screaming, “Filth! Filth! Filth!”

Before any security or employees could react she had smashed the glass open and reached into the display. She then tore a large strip from the artwork, which resembled a kind of comic book. Once she had torn away the piece of artwork, and as employees called police, she moved to a corner of the gallery and began tearing the artwork into small pieces. Witnesses say as she store the piece into shreds she was mumbling and yelling, “How can you desecrate my Lord?”

Once she was done she lay down on the floor with her arms outstretched as if she were being crucified, according to witnesses. She was then arrested and charged. The charges carry a fine of $1,000 - $2,000. She was released on $350 bail by an anonymous source.

Martyr and villain

Folden has now become the center of a controversy. She is being hailed as a hero by Christian fundamentalists who were opposed to the artwork’s display in the first place. She is being portrayed as a religious crazy-person by those who say the work was free speech.

The artist himself, who lives in San Francisco, claims that he has been receiving death threats via mail on a regular basis. He claims that the media has lied about what the works is about and has mis-represented what the artwork shows. The print that was destroyed was valued at about $3,400. Copies are available via the gallery website and gift shop.

The gallery owner released a statement expressing regret at the incident. They have also, temporarily, removed the souvenir prints from their website. Patrons who visited the gallery saw the shattered case and a note explaining that the print had been destroyed.

Folden’s lawyer, meanwhile, has continued to fan the flames. He released a statement accusing the gallery of endorsing insensitive and provocative artwork.

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