BOSTON A New York artist is praising conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s response to his controversial painting of President Obama standing with his arms outstretched as if crucified like Jesus and wearing a crown of thorns.
Some have called Michael D’Antuono’s painting “The Truth,” currently on view at Bunker Hill Community College, “blasphemous” to Christianity, while Beck called it “offensive,” but still defended the work on free speech grounds.
“Perhaps the bigger story is that something good has come from all this commotion over the piece,” D’Antuono, who appeared on Beck’s show on Nov. 28, e-mails me. “Through the firestorm of controversy over my painting ‘The Truth’ and the demands to remove it from public view by the Christian-Right, the one person to come to my defense was the person you would least expect … Glenn Beck, the Grand Jester of conservatism. We are, no doubt, the oddest of odd couples. My admittedly provocative art tends to take a liberal stance which 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. Yesterday he afforded me the opportunity on his show to air my thoughts and show my art. Then something even more surrealistic happened. Two of the most unlikely people, both of whose work has admittedly fueled some of the country’s divisiveness, demonstrated that they can have a respectful and civil discourse. As insignificant as this may sound, it’s a lesson that a lot of our elected and religious leaders, pundits and the American public in general would do well take notice of. In the increasingly divisive political environment, this is a positive thing. One small step for civility.”