Conservatives are riled over an ugly sculpture of Sarah Palin, now on exhibit at the Bridgeport Art Center. The sculpture, which has been on tour, features a gapping, yawling mouth in which a pig can be roasted.
Conservatives also have been riled about the nude (full frontal) painting of of Palin in the Old Town Ale House. (The artist reportedly used his own daughter as a model, and isn't that creepy?) Disrespectful! Nasty! Blah and blah.
Not me, though. I kind of like Palin's portrait, even if it isn't the real thing. When it comes to paintings of former vice presidential candidates, I'm just glad that it's not a portrait of Joe Biden. Considering all the nutty stuff that Biden says, the mouth would have to be large enough to roast a buffalo whole.
Everyone needs to step back and remember that caricature is a time-honored art form, especially in political commentary. And so, the Palin caricatures put me in mind of a controversial one of the late mayor and progressive icon, Harold Washington.
David K. Nelson, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, painted the portrait in 1988, showing Washington in women's underwear. Its display in the museum so angered the ultra-touchy black leadership that a delegation, which included some cops, went to the Art Institute and swiped it. Yep, under the cloak of law, the government came in and took down the portrait. Rarely has censorship been so blatant. The excuse? The portrait was an "incitement to riot."
Eventually, the portrait was returned to the Art Institute, but nobody wore the collar for this egregious violation of the First Amendment. Ah, Chicago.
Because I don't want to "incite a riot" I have decided not to post the Harold Washington painting. But you can see it and find out more about it and David Nelson here.