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Scott Lobaido has taken on the liberal New York art world in various guises: conservative art activist, infuriated protester, a walking Christmas tree and Superman – and has no plans to stop now.
Lobaido is an extremely outspoken Staten Island artist with over 30 years experience as a painter and patriotic performance artist who has “refused to succumb to an agenda of excessive political correctness” to succeed in the art field. His efforts have met with mixed results as he pops up routinely on the local news for all kinds of reasons and is occasionally arrested.
Lobaido’s recent stealth incursion into the PC zone also known as the Brooklyn Museum is noteworthy in its lack of news and arts coverage, which reinforces the point of his one-man protests. Only the local “Staten Island Advance” has covered most of his Quixotic forays against art-world intolerance.
The Brooklyn Museum currently hosts the nasty show “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” which is widely regarded as “anti-Catholic,” and the organizers apparently aren’t too keen about heterosexuality either.
The controversial exhibit was previously hosted at the government-funded Smithsonian and caused a firestorm when some citizens had the moxie to complain it wasn’t fit for children (or weak stomached animals). Some of the overtly offensive pieces include insects on a crucifix, bowls of blood and homo-erotic nudity since the 1930s in several mediums. Gay activists and others massively reprimanded Smithsonian director G. Wayne Clough – when he censored some of the more egregious pieces – by hounding, harassing and even physically assaulting him in various cities while pretending to be “outraged” that they didn’t get all their demands.
This round, Brooklyn Museum director Arnold Lehman was contacted by Bishop Nicholas DeMarzio, who was particularly offended by the video “Fire in my Belly” by David Wojnarowics. According to CNS news, Bishop DeMarzio felt some of the work “is disrespectful to Christians of every background” but he did not want to create “a public spectacle.”
Mr. Lobaido, however, has no such qualms with public scenes.
Angry over the anti-Christian bigotry via public funding, Lobaido launched a one-man crusade against Director Lehman and the Brooklyn Museum. On Nov. 16, he casually and legally entered the museum carrying an 18″ x 24″ painting under his arm. Lobaido caused no conflict and was not even speaking – it was the subject of his painting that got him the boot – after a slight scuffle with guards.
In Lobaido’s painting, a tiny Director Lehman slides down a huge toilet seat, with green gunk splattering down the sides. Yes, tasteless and tacky, the same adjectives used about the exhibit itself. But liberals, who always have problems comprehending irony, get very upset about particular types of “bad art” as long as it’s not their own. Apparently no freedom of expression here, as Lobaido was physically pushed away from the entrance by guardians of anti-Christianity. He defiantly continued his stand outside the building until authorities showed up threatening arrest of the “emotionally disturbed” person.
The Brooklyn Museum, the radical gay community and their assorted artist mascots disingenuously deny they are bashing Christianity. The Village Voice even appealed to sympathy for the poor director, calling the portrait of Lehman “cruel,” although they offered no comment on ants, excrement, Mary or Christ as subjects of ridicule. Even more revealing of the double standard in the press is the title of an enthusiastic tribute to the exhibit by New York Times art writer Roberta Smith, “This Gay American Life, in Code or in Your Face,” pretty much says it all.
Lobaido explained his motivation to WND: “If a private art institution was displaying the work of David Wojnarowics, and there was public outcry to have it removed, I would be in front of that gallery defending the artist and his work. This is not about the artist or his work! It is strictly about Arnold Lehman and a museum that is publicly funded. Mr. Lehman has a long track record of using Christian-bashing art to get attention to the museum. … Why does one public forum get privilege over another? Because it’s an art institution? Well that’s unfair, and the scary thing is that Arnold Lehman and the art elites know it.”
When asked what it’s like being such an open conservative artist in the New York City area, Lobaido replied, “I am not your typical NYC artist. I have learned to accept the way arts run in major cities, but it is interesting to see the treatment towards an artist from the right side of the fence. How ironic that this same art world that preaches tolerance has no room for my work. P— on a Crucifix, step on a flag, and you get into the best galleries. It’s not cutting edge, it’s stale, with a one-sided political agenda. I deal with it even though it puts a black eye on the entire arts movement and overshadows those who make great art. There’s a black X next to my name in the book of ‘Big City Artists,’ and I sleep well every night.”
This is not the first time Brooklyn Museum has launched an offensive at Christians. In 1999 it exhibited Chiris Olifili’s painting of a black Virgin Mary covered in elephant dung and surrounded by pornography. Wow, excrement, hate speech, racism, misogyny and porn all in one little package – such efficiency! And New Yorkers were privileged to help fund this with city and state taxes. Under that provocation, Lobaido flung animal dung (literally) back at the Museum and was led off in handcuffs. He returned months later with a painting of museum director Lehman kissing a pig’s rear and was promptly arrested for expressing his views.
The artist has found allies with the local population, the Church and Staten Island Borough officials. His mocking portrait of Lehman hung for awhile in the offices of Borough Hall President James P. Molinaro , who pronounced it “very fitting ” for his office. In an interview with the Village Voice he even claimed Lobaido’s painting was a “beautiful piece of art.” Both Lobaido and Molinaro are Catholic, as are the majority in Staten Island, which explains why he was “more than offended” over the blasphemous content of the “Hide/Seek” exhibit and seeking artistic revenge.
Other art by Lobaido includes painting American flags, thousands of them in different interpretations, including the world’s largest. A 3.5 acre field of red, white and blue bloomed on the roof of Lamons Gasket Company in Houston last year, requiring 900 gallons of paint and five assistants.
A patriot and supporter of U.S. troops, Lobaido has made two cross-country trips painting at least one roof in each state with a large flag. He began patriotic art 20 years ago out of concern that “we were falling out of love with our country,” because of political correctness and other forces and dedicated his life to reversing the trend with art and activism.
Lobaido is self-taught, and his work is not particularly elegant as his detractors point out. Miranda Blue on Right-Wing Watch (way to go, Scott, you’re officially being “watched”!) dismissed his “fawning, heroic portraits of Ronald Reagan and of George W. Bush brandishing the head of Osama bin Laden.” Mark Vallen labeled him “heavy handed,” “propagandistic” and “Orwellian.” Sounds a lot like art-world darling Shepard Fairey, whose propaganda posters for Obama could have been done by anyone with a intermediate knowledge of Photoshop. These same critics will pen a ten-page rationale in an art blog for similarly unsophisticated artists who have not made the politically suicidal move of supporting the U.S. military. It’s all about the politics.
Political action also sent Lobaido running to don a Superman suit in 2000 as he held a sign before the Supreme Court announcing “Good night, Al, the Party is over.” The flip side announced “The End” as the nation waited for the court to decide whether George W. Bush or Al Gore would prevail in the 2000 presidential election.
A few weeks ago Lobaido staged his most recent escapade in response to the New York City ban on Christmas decorations in bus and ferry terminals. Dressed as a seven foot, fully decorated Christmas tree, he wandered through the Staten Island ferry terminal to the delight and astonishment of onlookers.
Although Lobaido has been dismissed by many in the New York art scene as a right-wing nut case, he is serious in his intentions and goals. He hopes to appeal to those who are tired of radical socialist art movements and wants to see political balance return to the arts. Citing a growing following for his “creative stunts/battles against PC elitists” he considers himself in a unique position to see this happen.
“I am the unusual suspect,” he explained.
Lobaido does most of his flag paintings without charge, and they are truly the offspring of love. With plans for a book, documentary, TV show and intending to “cave to no one,” he is looking for funding and is highly unlikely to get it from the National Endowment for the Arts. He asked WND if we “know any fed-up, conservative, patriot, millionaires?” If you fit the description, you know where to find Scott Lobaido: either at his website or squaring off with Arnold Lehman at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.