A painting currently on display at an art gallery in Minneapolis has drawn controversy – and a rebuke from a Republican lawmaker – for its depiction of President Donald Trump groping a woman.
Per MPR News, the painting by Jim Denomie is called “Standing Rock 2016,” and it depicts the activists who showed up to the Standing Rock pipeline protests in North Dakota in 2016. In one section of the painting, Trump is seen groping a woman who is described as “Lady Justice,” while his predecessor, Barack Obama, is depicted as a “sitting duck.”
The painting debuted last week as part of an exhibition at Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis. And an elected official in the area isn’t happy with it.
Joshua Heintzeman, a Republican member of the Minnesota House of Representatives who represents a Northern Minnesota district, posted to his Facebook page this week a picture of the painting, along with his opinion that the painting contains “a number of very controversial depictions.” He added that Trump’s depiction was “especially offencive [sic],” then added the following warning to other artists.
“If ‘artists’ create this kind of thing on their own time, [then] fine, but not on my dime.”
Denomie, the artist, did indeed receive a $10,000 grant from Minnesota’s State Arts Board. Per City Pages, another Minnesota Republican legislator, Sen. Carrie Ruud, commented on the Facebook thread that “this project met all specifications set forth by the constitution and the Arts Board.” Ruud added that the grant was presented before the art was created, meaning that the work itself was never approved or disapproved by any government entity.
The Legacy Amendment, passed by Minnesota voters in 2008, makes public grants available to artists in that state, per the Minnesota Historical Society website.
The controversy recalls a series of fights that took place, especially in the 1980s, when controversial works of art were found to have received funding from the National Endowment For the Arts (NEA), as well as other government entities. These included Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ photograph, as well the homoerotic photography exhibitions by Robert Mapplethorpe. Such controversies often had one side claiming censorship, with the other not wishing to expend public funds on such art.
In the 1990s, then-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, per BBC, threatened to withdraw funding from the Brooklyn Museum of Art after it included Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary, a painting which depicted the biblical figure with elephant dung. Giuliani is now the president’s personal attorney.
Heintzeman did not say that he was going to take any type of official action in relation to the art exhibit or its funding.