I am the artist Michael D’Antuono who is drawing fire from the Religious-Right for my controversial painting titled "The Truth" featuring President Obama seemingly crucified in front of the Presidential seal. Christian groups are upset because the piece is currently on display at Boston's Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery as part of the politically charged “Artists on the Stump – the Road to the White House 2012" collection. The piece was actually supposed to debut four years ago at New York City’s Union Square. 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.
Once again, the piece has created a media circus and I’ve been besieged with hate mail demanding I withdraw the piece from public view. 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 the conservative icon devoted a show to defending this liberal artist's first amendment right in his own grandiloquent way. Then yesterday, he 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 of whose work might have helped fuel some of the country's divisive atmosphere from opposing political perspectives, demonstrated that they 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.
Huffington Post article about the piece: