Saturday, October 09, 2010

Folded Mohammed? Nope: Another Folded Christ

Steve Miller claims to have found a whole new angle to the story about the piece in an art exhibit at the Loveland Museum/Gallery which apparently depicts Jesus Christ involved in what some say is an act of oral sex.

The piece is a folded-paper lithograph and woodcut panel depicting cultural icons. Titled "The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals," it was created by California-based artist Enrique Chagoya, a professor at Stanford University.
The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals

The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals by Enrique Chagoya. Color lithograph/woodcut. 7½" x 90". Ed. 30. $3400

You can buy it online used to be able to buy it online here, but now it's gone, so maybe it is sold out!

I blasted the professor for taking easy short cuts to Serranoesque/Offiliesque shock art and challenged him that "For his next panel, if he wants to get international attention of a diverse nature to say the least, I dare him to do a similar Muhammad panel."

But apparently, the professor had done this already! And no one has mentioned it, as far as I can tell. According to Steve Miller in a comment in my original post: "None of the talking heads seem to have noticed that Mohammed IS portrayed on one of the panels. He seems to be kneeling before a pair of pigs dressed up like hookers in one of the panels."

See it in the bottom panel? It's the second scene.

Can someone verify this? I will try to email the professor and also the print shop where the piece was made and also the museum.

If this is correct, then my kudos to the professor; he's got some big cojones and I stand corrected.

Prof. Chagoya responded to my request for verification and passes that it is not Mohammed in that panel but another representation of Christ; he says:
First of all there are no representations of the prophet Mohamed. In my book my original source is actually coming from a representation of Jesus in a Persian Manuscript from the 17th Century reproduced in an [Newsweek, March 27, 2000] article by Kenneth L. Woodward in March 27 2000. In my book it represents the spiritual (represented by the Persian illustration of Jesus) protecting himself from temptation with flames around him (the pig ladies are the symbol of temptation in my book). In the online version there are no illustrations but the article matches the hard copy.
So there are no representations of Mohammed in the piece by Prof. Chagoya.

By the way, some idiot destroyed the work that had been on exhibit in the museum:
A woman armed with a crowbar entered the Loveland Museum/Gallery on Wednesday afternoon and destroyed a controversial exhibit that some said shows Jesus Christ engaged in a sex act.

"The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals," by Stanford University's Enrique Chagoya, has been the subject of a week's worth of protests by those who claim it is blasphemy.

"It's sad and upsetting," Chagoya said Wednesday night by phone from California. "I've never had this kind of violent reaction to my art. Violence doesn't resolve anything."

The suspect was identified by police as 56-year-old Kathleen Folden of Kalispell, Mont. She is in custody on a charge of criminal mischief, a Class 4 felony with a fine of up to $2,000.

Police said the woman entered the museum about 4 p.m. and stood in front of the exhibit. Using a crowbar or similar tool, she broke the plexiglass protecting the image and tore up the artwork. She also cut herself in the process.
Read the story online here.

One more former Klaudia Marr artist complains

The story so far: As I reported a few days ago, New Mexico art dealer Klaudia Marr allegedly conned the National Portrait Gallery to ship a painting by New York artist Margaret Bowland to a third party who apparently had paid Marr for the painting, even though, according to Bowland, Marr and Bowland had ended their relationship (and Bowland had earlier notified the NPG of this, and claims she has never received a penny from the painting's alleged sale).

A new artist has now emerged from this story, also allegedly victimized by Klaudia Marr.

The artist is Isabelle du Toit and her saga with the Santa Fe art dealer goes back almost a year. Isabelle wrote to me (all the below text and quotes are published with the permission of Isabelle du Toit and is from the text of her correspondence to me):

She [Klaudia Marr] owes me $5000 for 3 paintings she sold but never paid me. I even have her admission in an email that she acknowledges that she owes me this money but her last email to me stated that her business has closed and that there is nothing I can do to collect my money.
What happened here?

We pick up the trail on Monday, May 03, 2010, when du Toit writes to the gallerist and says:
Hi Klaudia,

I left you a message on Friday but you didn't call me back. You said you would pay me for the 3 paintings you sold 6 month ago last month.

Could you please send me the check as soon as possible.

The paintings are the Costa Hummingbirds 16x20, the Red Eyed Tree Frogs 16x20 and the Mice 20x24

Please call me or email me a reply.


From that note we gather that the three paintings were sold around December 2009. Since no payment had been sent six months later, it appears that the gallery is already in financial trouble and keeping artists' commissions in order to stay open. The next day Marr answers du Toit, explaining that she (Marr) "has not forgotten about my obligations to you; this Friday is our first big opening of the season and I am hoping that we will fare well... there just haven't been any sales; it's tough... I am not making excuses, all I can do is move forward to catch up; I am very sorry! you will hear from me when a payment is going out to you, which will probably [be] a partial one..."

From this we gather that Marr is in a desperate financial situation, where she is now hoping to have sales (I guess by other artists) in order to try to pay other artists (such as du Toit) whose works she sold as far back as six months earlier.

That same day du Toit's husband answers Marr:
Your payments has been outstanding for an unreasonably long time now... I also want to know what reasonable partial payments you can make now, and when the balance will be paid for each of them.

This is an unfortunate situation for everybody, but one should take responsibility and do what is right.

Please let me know in writing by responding to this email tomorrow how you plan to resolve this.

If I don't see a prompt and reasonable effort on your side you put this right, you can be sure that legal action will follow!
Marr answers that same day, admitting to du Toit that she owes du Toit a $5,312.50 commission and notes that du Toit "can take as many legal actions as you want - there is nothing to gain, unfortunately; you cannot take something that doesn't exist; there is no other way than waiting and I don't know when the money will come but I know that I won't stop until it is repaid; I cannot commit to a timeline nor to an amount since it all depends on sales coming in..." Once again, Marr appears to hope that future sales can be used to pay past commissions. She is pushing the inevitable disaster to the right.

The du Toits then give Marr a month, and a month later ask for an update. On June 3, 2010, Marr responds:
Again, I am sorry our relationship has come to this point. I literally have zero assets and no way to make payment arrangements at this time. I have sold my house, (putting every dime into this business), moved to an inexpensive location and let go of my employee (whom I still owe back wages). Instead of closing my doors and walking away I have chosen to try my very best as the season approaches to make enough to honor all my contracts. Without any sales I cannot make payment arrangements. I do not have the funds.

I understand your frustration. Over the years I have seen many artists who were not paid when their galleries went out of business - and this happened when the economy was good. After fifteen years in business I am determined not to let this economy do this to me or to my artists. You will do what you will, but I would ask you, for the sake of everyone involved, to please let me tackle this season with as much energy as I can muster. I can offer you no other alternative.

Respectfully yours,

From this timeline of communications, it appears to me that at some point around here is when the alleged sale of Margaret Bowland's $37,500 painting (which was hanging at the NPG) took place without her consent or knowledge. (Update: Subsequently it has been discovered that the painting was allegedly sold as early as a year prior to this time). Also at some point in the timeline around here, Marr allegedly contacted the NPG and asked that Bowland's painting be identified on the wall text as "from the collection of ..." clearly implying that the painting had been sold. According to Bowland, the NPG immediately contacted Bowland who notes:
I told [the NPG] absolutely not.

I had never received one dime for the painting and had no expectations of receiving money for the piece. [The NPG] called again and said that [they] well understood and... we spoke for a bit about the horror of thieving dealers. By now the word had gone out that the Marr gallery was stealing from its artists. She had been running the gallery as a ponzi scheme and when the bottom fell out of the market she started lying to people and stealing their art. A friend in the gallery had contacted me and told me this and I had moved very fast to send a shipper in to grab my art. At the time I felt quite fortunate. My friend lost 9 paintings to her. But with this call from [the NPG] I felt that I was safe in the protective hands of the Smithsonian and what could be safer?
What did Marr do with this money from the alleged sale of the Bowland painting? It's a substantial amount, and the buyer of the painting has informed Bowland that he had paid "$37,500 dollars and he still owed six grand on the painting." So Marr has $31,500 in cash sometime around this timeframe from an allegedly illegal sale where she has allegedly played the NPG into shipping the painting to a third party.

None of those funds make their way to du Toit. She writes in mid June:
Klaudia, please let me know what the status is. I am sure you are able to buy food since you are not dead yet and I am sure you are able to buy gas to drive your car.

My patience is running out with you and you are not being fair. I am trying my best to work with you and would accept even a small regular payment to show you mean what you say. If you don't take corrective action very soon, we will hire a debt collector and they are not pleasant.

You need to make this right, right now! This is your last warning!
She follows that with:
We are not making any threats other than to consider legal options against you for payment if you force us to.

Please don't misinterpret what we say. We are just frustrated that you are not paying. Can you really not even pay a small amount just to show you mean to keep your promise?


Marr responds:

at this time I am not even able to give you a small amount; I have explained my situation to you over and over again and I do not feel that you are hearing me; I do not dispute that I owe you the commissions;

I will be in contact with you by September 15; please be so kind and don't distract me from my duties until then;

To try to warn other artists, Isabelle then stood up this website. Since then, more artists have contacted me; their saga next.