Archive for Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lawrence artist miffed after Topeka restaurant removes Brownback painting

October 4, 2012


A print of Gov. Sam Brownback — crying and apparently going down in flames — made it through a recent Lawrence gallery exhibit without incident. The same artwork did not last long at a Topeka restaurant, where building owners have removed it from an exhibit.

Artist Dave Loewenstein's painting of Gov. Sam Brownback was removed from a Topeka restaurant where it was on display. Loewenstein said removing the painting amounts to censorship, but the owners of the building that houses the Blue Planet Cafe say the image was taken down so as not to offend Brownback's daughter, Liz, who works there.

Artist Dave Loewenstein's painting of Gov. Sam Brownback was removed from a Topeka restaurant where it was on display. Loewenstein said removing the painting amounts to censorship, but the owners of the building that houses the Blue Planet Cafe say the image was taken down so as not to offend Brownback's daughter, Liz, who works there.

The difference? Brownback’s daughter doesn’t work at the art gallery.

Owners of the building that houses Blue Planet Cafe, 110 SE Eighth Ave., told Lawrence artist Dave Loewenstein on Wednesday that they removed “Reject Brownback” out of respect to Brownback’s daughter, a building employee. The print would have been displayed with several of Loewenstein’s other politically charged artworks through the month of October.

“This decision has nothing to do with politics or our belief in your freedom of speech through art,” Greg Ready, who along with Jeff Carson owns the Thacher building and Gizmo Pictures upstairs from the restaurant, wrote in an email to Loewenstein. “Liz [Brownback] is a valued employee and friend to us and I (we) felt strongly against subjecting her to having to look at a picture of her father burning at her place of employment.”

Loewenstein is decrying the removal as censorship. He said that while he understands no law was violated, he told the owners they overreacted.

“I just said I was really disappointed, I understand that they had the right to do it but that I thought their actions were way out of proportion for the reasons that they gave,” Loewenstein said.

Loewenstein said he questioned the owners’ motives because he does not know how Brownback’s daughter feels and has not personally spoken with her. He added that while he sympathizes with relatives of public figures, he also thinks they need to be prepared for criticism politicians may face.

Ready, however, said that the governor’s daughter may have grown up around criticism but that he stood by his decision to take down the print. He said he made his decision before telling her and that she did not influence the choice.

“I don’t think anybody could not think that was disturbing — anybody with a soul at least,” he said. “Try to picture going to work and seeing your dad’s picture in flames, no matter what his profession may be.”

Ready said he believes the artwork was hung conspicuously with the purpose of getting a reaction and that he “fell for it” — but that doesn’t mean the print is going back up.

“I felt that this was meant to be mean-spirited and spiteful, so I let my conscience make the decision,” he said. “And I hope that people will understand that and try to divorce the political side from the actual situation.”

Brownback’s office said the decision was made by private business owners and that neither the governor nor his family had anything to do with it but declined further comment. Liz Brownback did not respond to an email requesting an interview on Thursday.

Loewenstein said the flames in the picture aren’t actually licking at Sam Brownback, but rather are in the background — symbolic of the damage Loewenstein believes the governor’s policies are doing to the state. Loewenstein cited social programs, public education and public arts support as policy issues that especially concern him.

Michaela Carmen, the Blue Planet Cafe’s art curator, said the restaurant also was disappointed that the painting came down.

“We support local art,” Carmen said. “We are very anti-censorship in any art.”

Carmen said the cafe is honored to show Loewenstein’s work and expects it to be good for business. She said Gizmo employees walk through the entrance they share with the cafe to get to work and frequently come downstairs to eat lunch there.

“Reject Brownback” is a spray-painted stencil print last displayed in Lawrence at the Invisible Hand Gallery’s June Final Fridays show, “Friends of the Hand.” Loewenstein is best known for his public art, including the “Pollinators” mural at the Downtown Lawrence Farmers’ Market.

At Blue Planet Cafe, it was hanging with other prints of what Loewenstein calls “Kansas politicians gone awry.”

“El Secretario de Xenofobia” pictures Secretary of State Kris Kobach saying, “Your papers, por favor.” “The Feral Senator” pictures Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, with a pig-face and a shotgun.

While the politicians in his “awry” series are all Republicans so far, Loewenstein said he’s watching Democrats, too.

“It’s not about the political party to me at all,” he said. “I would be equally critical of anybody who I felt like was harming Kansas.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this story. Features reporter Sara Shepherd can be reached at 832-7187. Follow her at


witchfindergeneral 4 years ago

Brownback is bad, but, to be fair, that painting kinda is too.

But what do Brownback's daughter and the (likely connected) restaurant owners expect? Her father is a politician, a public figure, the executive of a state, etc.--look, some people don't like him (incredibly /s), and they're going to make fun of him. Get used to it, invest in some skin thickening agent (I know a guy, give me a call).

Mari Aubuchon 4 years ago

I agree; if you enjoy the benefits, then you must deal with the burdens.

By the way, it is the restaurant's landlord that had it removed and, as someone who was a renter for most of her adult life, that really bothers me. I have known a landlord (Palmer Mai) who went as far as requiring couples to be married. I wonder if there is an "I get to decide what goes on the walls" clause in the lease?

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

Actually, I once lived in an apartment complex where unmarried women were not allowed to have overnight visitors of the opposite sex of ANY kind, whether they were 7 or 70. It was actually written in the lease. Oddly, there was no such provision in the leases of male residents.

Chris Golledge 4 years ago

Well, for starters, there would be a distinction between those that are related to you, say brothers and fathers, and those that are not.

optimist 4 years ago

"Loewenstein...added that while he sympathizes with relatives of public figures, he also thinks they need to be prepared for criticism politicians may face." And if you create something like this you too should be prepared for criticism of yourself and your talent. Seems fair to me.

Katara 4 years ago

But there wasn't any criticism of him or his talent. They were concerned about Liz Brownback not being able to handle seeing a picture of her father in a negative light.

Topple 4 years ago

Your "artwork" sucks anyway, and I don't even like BB.

jafs 4 years ago

That's not a critique of the art - it's an attempt to protect somebody from having their feelings hurt.

And, by the way, Liz is not an employee of the landlord, she's an employee of the tenant, the restaurant.

Unless she works for the business upstairs, which is run by the landlord. But that way she wouldn't have to see the painting much, if at all, if she didn't go into the restaurant and look at it.

If she doesn't like it, she can simply not go look at it.

Or, of course, as many conservatives have suggested, she can find a job somewhere else if it bothers her.

Katara 4 years ago

Liz Brownback is not an employee of the restaurant, Blue Planet.

You'd probably like it. Their food is mainly vegan/vegetarian fare. They do have meat options too. I haven't tried it yet but I've heard many good reviews of the food from friends.

jafs 4 years ago

Thanks - I hate Topeka, so I generally don't go there, but it sounds like a place I might like :-)

So, she works for the upstairs gallery? Then all she has to do is not to go into the restaurant and look at the painting - problem solved.

Katara 4 years ago

It has nothing to do with what "side" you perceive me to be on. There was no criticism of the artwork according to the article. The landlord felt that Liz Brownback might be upset by the picture.

It doesn't even sound like the landlord even talked to Liz Brownback about it but just automatically assumed that she would feel that way. If I was Liz, I'd be irritated with the landlord for assuming that I was such a special snowflake that I couldn't handle the fact that people don't like my dad.

Liz Brownback is a grown woman. If the artwork bothered her, I'm sure she is capable of saying so.

fantastic_hollaa 4 years ago

I saw recently that Quinton's plastered over the mural he did there. What gives?

I really liked that piece

Mike1949 4 years ago

Though I can honestly say that I am NOT a fan, I agree with you, let it be displayed!

Liberty275 4 years ago

I'm sort of with you. I'm ambivalent towards Brownback, but it should have been left to hang where the restaurant guy put it. Granted, the piece has nil artistic merit and is little more than childish propaganda, but even childish propaganda is expression.

I understand a property owner can remove most anything from his property that he wants, so in the end we have to respect that decision. If someone gives me a short list of his tenants, I'll stop giving them money for a while. The building's owner was within his right to take the picture down, and I'm in the right when I don't whip out the debit card to help pay him rent.

I'm left to wonder what the reaction would have been had the print (or whatever) been of Martin Luther King and Barack Obama picking cotton surrounded by fire and singing swing low sweet chariots. My opinion as stated above wouldn't change one bit; however, I'm certain more than a few of our leftist hypocrites would have a hissy fit and probably write a stupid letter to this award-winning news corporation asking who to contact to have an offensive picture removed from a restaurant.

jafs 4 years ago

What gives the owner (the landlord) the right to compel their tenant to remove artwork?

Does a residential landlord have that right, if there's no specific language in the lease about it?

Your idea not to patronize the tenants would probably wind up hurting them more than the owner, I would think, which is too bad.

Liberty275 4 years ago

"What gives the owner (the landlord) the right to compel their tenant to remove artwork?"

Probably some clause in the lease, or fear that the lease won't be renewed.

"Your idea not to patronize the tenants would probably wind up hurting them more than the owner, I would think, which is too bad."

You are welcome to do nothing.

jafs 4 years ago

If there is no clause in the lease specifying that, does the landlord have that right?

Liberty275 4 years ago

He has the right to not renew the lease.

jafs 4 years ago

That's a different question, and answer.

By the way, the fact that a tenant may be afraid their lease won't be renewed isn't synonymous with landlords having a legal right to tell them what they can hang on their walls - it's just a factor that makes tenants a bit less powerful in the relationship.

Liberty275 4 years ago

I don't disagree with you. I think the picture should have been left up, but something compelled the cook to take it down. It is either a clause in the lease or fear of having to relocate.

Kathy Theis-Getto 4 years ago

Oh, dear Liberty, is your purported MFA speaking for you again? Nil artistic merit? Childish propaganda? Goya- art or propaganda? Pollock- art or propaganda? Lulaks- art or propaganda? Rivera- art or propaganda?

Do you know what the artist's intent was? Can any art be without value? No response is deserved for your leftist hypocrite comment/propaganda.

Liberty275 4 years ago

The fact that he had an intent makes the piece a work of propaganda. Propaganda has no artistic merit, ever.

Kathy Getto:

Goya = Art to us. Some propaganda to his original audience. Pollock = Abstract impressionism which is pure art. I prefer Kandinsky, but I'm about to do a Pollock-inspired telecaster.. Rivera = Well crafted socialist propaganda although he had nice technique. I admire his work even though he put it to the wrong use. Lulak = LOL, illustration.

Kathy Theis-Getto 4 years ago

you know his intent? Art can become propaganda without the artist's intent. LOL

Liberty275 4 years ago

"you know his intent?"

I know the meaning of the plain English words on the top and bottom of the piece. If you don't see intent in "reject brownback", then explain your poetic interpretation.

"Art can become propaganda without the artist's intent."

I'm not sure that is possible in the vast majority of cases. Artwork can easily be defaced into propaganda. In this case, the artist defaced what would probably be considered art.

Kathy Theis-Getto 4 years ago

I certainly hope you understand, before you mislead another, that Pollock's work indeed serves as an example of art as propaganda.

Flap Doodle 4 years ago

In 1988, Chicago aldermen and police seized a painting of ex-mayor Harold Washington that they thought was offensive. You can't please everyone.

4 years ago

Shush you. Art is only protected speech if the right people agree with it.

question4u 4 years ago

The image has been in the Topeka Capital Journal and now the Lawrence Journal World, so Ready's reaction certainly gave the image a lot greater exposure. Why didn't he talk to the artist, explain why he was concerned, and ask him to remove it? There was no need for censorship, unless the artist proved to be unreasonable. Instead he bungled things and gave a large readership an opportunity to see an image that they would not otherwise have known existed – and he made himself look rather foolish in the process. Does he really not understand what censorship is? I certainly think that it would have been fair to request that the artist remove the work, and I think that the artist would have been wrong to refuse to do so under the circumstances. Nevertheless, when you use your power to remove an image that the artist was invited to display, there's no other word for it but censorship.

The image is actually more interesting as a pastiche of Roy Lichtenstein's tearful blondes than it is as political commentary. Besides, it's pure fantasy to think that Brownback would cry tears of remorse for sending Kansas to perdition. Haven't you been paying attention Dave?

Liberty275 4 years ago

"Does he really not understand what censorship is?"

I hope he does because you certainly don't.

beatrice 4 years ago

I agree with the Lichtenstein comment, although he didn't only paint blondes. : )

Topple 4 years ago

I believe he's saying a simple portrait of Brownback without flames and criticism. Something that would portray him positively.

jafs 4 years ago

One example of that, if you have it?

Mari Aubuchon 4 years ago

He is not the manager; he is the LANDLORD. I would have an issue with a landlord telling me what were suitable subjects for art in my home or business.

fiddleback 4 years ago

No, we'd just embrace it ironically, like this one.

That or draw a mustache.

Lisa Medsker 4 years ago

Uh, wut? I thought Brownback was a Conservative, Right-Wing Republican. How is that painting hurting "Libs" feelings? Isn't it his daughter that has to see the painting, and his daughter who must be swaddled in bubble-wrap and gossamer so as not to have HER feelings hurt?

Lisa Medsker 4 years ago

Exactly. The daughter has said absolutely nothing, that we know of. I read the thread, and the point of my post is that it's interesting how this was twisted from the landlord, whom we have no real way of knowing if he's a Brownback supporter or not, (my guess is "yes") is acting in the interest of protecting "Conservatives feelings", yet rvjayhawk managed to turn it around on the opposing party, saying that "Libs" whine when their feelings are hurt.
It's a painting, for crying out loud, based on an opinion. Everyone has them. If the kid ends up with PTSD because someone doesn't like her Daddies policies, and the landlord feels that everyone should kowtow to the as yet unknown wants of one person, then it's not the painting, or its display, that is the real problem. Why do so many people, Conservative and Liberal alike, believe that they are entitled to go through life without ever, ever being "offended"? It's politics. Somebody, at some point, is going to get their knickers in a twist.

Rich Noever 4 years ago

You are so right Cheeseburger! Why is it that the far left so often has to resort to name calling and be so mean spirited? They seemed to be so emotionally immature.

verity 4 years ago

And of course those on the right are always sweet, well-mannered, ubermature and NEVER resort to name-calling.

beatrice 4 years ago

Please share with us the many examples of liberals "screaming bloody murder" to have straight-forward portraits of politicians removed from restaurant walls (or gallery walls, if you prefer), to support your claim.

I suspect you can't.

PhilChiles 4 years ago

This seems like a no-brainer, if you're a business owner. I'm not a Brownback fan but this is a win-win all around. Artists might complain when this kind of thing happens, but really, they need a little bit of it occasionally. Makes 'em feel edgy and dangerous, and gets people talking about them. And Brownback's daughter feels valued at work; the owner provided a job benefit at absolutely no cost!

4 years ago

"Loewenstein is decrying the removal as censorship."

A little bit of martyrdom is good for the artist's soul, so Loewenstein should thank the owners for what he could probably turn into years of inspiration if he mixes it with arrogance, hate, and self-pity in the proper proportions.

Maybe he could kick off this new beginning with a self-portrait of himself crying while it's still fresh in the mirror - it will help to keep those creative juices flowing.

cowboy 4 years ago

That painting blows as much as Brownback

verity 4 years ago

I agree with cowboy. IMHO, it's a stupid picture.

Where's all the defenders of freedom now? Private business, they can decorate any way they please.

Censorship? Just like removing comments from these boards is censorship.

msezdsit 4 years ago

sounds like someone has a chip on their shoulder

msezdsit 4 years ago

I actually stumbled across an 8.5x11 print of this artwork and it will hang in my house indefinitely. The excuses these people used to justify the removal are ridiculous. The painting is a great work and I don't find anything offensive about it. But lets take the publicity created by the owners mis-step and remember the rest of the art work. It is truly some of the best political artwork you will see anywhere . It is clever, wity, and very well done. Go check it out while you can.

Topple 4 years ago

If this is an example of clever, wity, and very well done, then I'll pass.

msezdsit 4 years ago

Tell me some specifics about the artwork. Oh, forgot, you haven't even seen the display, your just parroting bs.

msezdsit 4 years ago

Understanding and appreciating art is not your strong suit sage. Cheap shots and baseless comments are. Which is exactly what your comment is. Artists have a portion of their brain that is far more developed than that portion of your brain is so it wouldn't be expected that you would get it.

Liberty275 4 years ago

I've assisted in restoring many 19th century paintings. I've held in my hands and helped restore a Rosenquist. I've shown my own work as far away as Prague.

I've seen the real thing, and the picture in question is crap.

msezdsit 4 years ago

Not buying your bs liberty. Show your real name if you want to toot your horn like this. Any one can post what you claim anonymously so Im calling you on your self patronization.

If you know so much you would no their is a story that comes with a piece of art and you clearly don't get that which disqualifies all your pats on your back.

Liberty275 4 years ago

I don't care what you buy. It's tripe and if it had been presented in my grad-level art classes at KU it would have been trashed by the instructors and by me. The guy would have left the room in tears.

"If you know so much you would no their is a story"

They must have had art and spelling class on the same day at your school. I take it you were sick that day.

" Show your real name"

Too many crazies and it's none of your business. Suffice it to say, this award-winning news corporation has mentioned my name in several reviews.

Kathy Theis-Getto 4 years ago

Sooo, you claim to be a department head? If this truly is the way you " teach", you shouldn't be teaching.

msezdsit 4 years ago

275 you are politically offended by this art work and therefore any comment from you critiquing this art is flawed and has nothing to do with art. I did some research on the artist responsible for this art work and he really does have art work permanently on display in New York City, still has art on permanent display overseas (as far away as Ireland) teaches art at a highly respectable University and a published author of art. He has an impeccable reputation in promoting art and quite frankly would walk out of your art class completely disgusted in you. All you have proven with your rant is that if you truly are teaching art at ku, that is a class that no one should pay for. I certainly wouldn't spend a nickel listening to your biased trumped up tripe. You are way to closed minded to be teaching anything much less art. However, I don't buy your self-indulgence bs anyway and I wouldn't blame you for not wanting anyone to know who you are especially those who wasted their money on you.

Paul R Getto 4 years ago

I am beginning to understand the isolation you must feel, Liberty, as a conservative artist (using that term lightly), so I have provided this link for you:

Budgets_Smudgets 4 years ago

The restaurant was wrong and Lowenstein is even more wrong.

Pick up the phone and talk to the people involved, Dave, before you pop off to a news reporter.

ThePilgrim 4 years ago

"Artist" is a stretch. He makes fun of Brownback, gets his pic in the paper. Big whoop.

JackMcKee 4 years ago

LOL. And you wonder why young intelligent kids are running away from Kansas.

elkwc36 4 years ago

wherever a private property owner . Vertigo I agree with that statement. And the property owner in this case doesn't choose to have it displayed on his property. It is no different than a owner of a rental property not allowing pets. All these comments by the LIberals have me confused. I seen them state many times that the Liberals care more about others and have more compassion than conservatives. But in this case they seem perfectly content to ridicule, make fun of and show all disregard for Brownback's daughter. Guess they only care when it involves something they believe in and something that may benefit them. Like Obamacare. Loewenstein stated he would do one of anyone who was doing harm to KS. Where are those about Obama and K. Sibelius? They have both done more harm to KS and our nation than Brownback ever will. At least Brownback brought us back from the financial cliff where KS and Parkinson led us. I agree it is right to paint what he want. Likewise it is a property owner's right to restrict what is exhibited on his property. Another example of a Liberal. Wants rights when it benefits them but then wants to restrict those rights when it doesn't.

jafs 4 years ago

You seem to be missing the point that this is a rental property, and that tenants have rights as well.

If you're renting an apartment, does your landlord have the right to tell you what art you can display in the apartment?

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years ago

This is perfectly lovely. This article is just right for our time and place. Everyone gets to vent their humours in this most political time of year. Let us continue to express the loving milk of our narrow minds.

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

Actually, this has been a perfect win-win situation: the owner of the building gets to express his support for Liz Brownback as a valued employee, Lowenstein gets WAY more publicity for his art than he ever would have received otherwise, and Blue Planet gets to make it very clear to all that they support the artistic community (which they really do). On top of it all, there was no real censorship occurring because the art was plastered all over the place in newspapers and I'm sure that Dave can find another venue in Topeka for his art project--including the Brownback piece--and folks will flock to see it.

Seems to me that everyone has acted responsibly here: the owner of the building, Liz (by staying out of it), Dave, the cafe, and even the media. Let's recognize it for what it is: every once in a while our society works like it's supposed to!

jonas_opines 4 years ago

"Lowenstein is (hiding his pleasure at extra exposure behind) decrying censorship." fixed?

Either that or he's just a whiner.

jafs 4 years ago

The interesting issue here to me is whether or not a landlord has the right to compel a tenant to take down some art that's been hung on the wall or not.

If it were a personal rental, I'd say no, unless there was a specific clause in the lease that gave that authority.

With commercial ones, I'm not sure - there may be differences.

Anybody know?

Katara 4 years ago

A landlord could compel a tenant to take down some art with the reason being that putting nails in the wall constitutes damage to the property.

jafs 4 years ago


But that wouldn't be a content related provision, and makes sense to me - landlords don't want their property damaged.

I meant compel them to take it down because the art offended the landlord.

Katara 4 years ago

A landlord really doesn't need a specific clause to do that though. Many clauses in leases are general and vague enough that the landlord can do a lot. Most landlords don't pull those stunts though because word gets around and tends to discourage people from renting from them.

jafs 4 years ago

I'd be very surprised if leases without specific clauses about such things allowed residential landlords to tell tenants what kind of art they can have on the walls, what kind of music they can listen to, or what kind of books they can read in their own apartment.

They can certainly tell them to turn down the level of their music if it bothers other tenants, or not to poke big holes in the walls when they hang stuff, etc.

But, it seems to me that the tenant is renting the space, and is entitled to live there as they please, as long as their activities don't infringe on anybody else's rights.

jafs 4 years ago

Based on what exactly?

The restaurant is renting space from the owner of the building, and is thus a tenant. Their restaurant is a private business, and I would agree that they have the right to decide what goes on the walls.

It's the landlord that made the decision, not the restaurant owner, to remove the artwork.

jonas_opines 4 years ago

Without knowing the details of the request and relationship, I doubt this query makes much difference in this case. Could have been a completely amicable request and compliance for all parties involved.

It is an interesting question, though. At least with living spaces, it does seem that many leases have contingencies upon what modifications can be made to the property, in terms of pictures hung, painting, etc.

jafs 4 years ago

Except that the restaurant owner wasn't happy that the landlord removed it.

It is interesting. I don't recall any such clauses in my leases when I rented relating to the content of artwork - there may have been some regarding how things were hung, so as not to damage the walls too much, which seems reasonable to me.

Content related restrictions seem much less reasonable to me - can landlords tell you what tv to watch, music to listen to, books to read, etc.?

jafs 4 years ago

Ambiguous clauses are...ambiguous.

And, I find this "request" unreasonable, just as I would if I were renting an apartment, and the landlord tried to tell me what art I could have, music I could listen to, etc.

Your point about the imbalanced relationship between landlord and tenant is noted.

msezdsit 4 years ago

I don't think either the artist or the restauranteur were interested in turning this into a war so neither the lease or applicable law would come into force. I don't know this artist but it seems he voiced his position and was willing to remove the piece of art.

jafs 4 years ago


I'm interested in whether or not the landlord has the legal right to require they remove it, absent a specific and clear clause in the lease specifying that right.

The artist has no authority to insist the painting stay up, as far as I can tell, but the restaurant might have such a claim.

msezdsit 4 years ago

Commercial leases are different than residential leases in that the Landlord Tenant Act takes precedence over residential leases. It has no legal application to a commercial lease and whether this piece could be removed would have to be spelled out in the lease. It may be that the property owner could interpret a clause as allowing the removal even if there wasn't anything specific about and that would then have to be supported by the courts. If I were leasing a building that was to be used for a restaurant that in turn may display whatever on the walls, I would have a clause allowing for some parameters on what is acceptable. This piece of art wouldn't even come close to those parameters. And, just because their might be a clause in the lease, it doesn't mean that it would have to be invoked. It would only be a safety net if necessary.

Liberty275 4 years ago

I wonder how hard it is to move a restaurant.

jaywalker 4 years ago

"Loewenstein said he questioned the owners’ motives because he does not know how Brownback’s daughter feels and has not personally spoken with her. He added that while he sympathizes with relatives of public figures, he also thinks they need to be prepared for criticism politicians may face."

Gee, I wonder how she feels. No empathetic ability, Mr. Loewenstein? And I'm certain his daughter has had to deal with plenty of the criticism thrown her father's way already, she certainly doesn't need to walk into work each day and see her father sweating in the fires of hell, which I'm fairly certain was the actual intent there.

And sorry, this ain't "censorship." People struggle with this almost as much as they do racism. Once one has ceded control of their work to a gallery, game's over. The owner gets to choose where and when to display, including not doing so altogether.

OhnaLeeWhonVought 4 years ago

Oh the poooor baby! If king Brownback's little girl is offended, then might I suggest she seek employment somewhere else. (hmmm that sounds familiar, where have I heard that before?)

OhnaLeeWhonVought 4 years ago

Now I remember, (and I paraphrase, but the sentiment is close) "If women don't like the fact that their employer's insurance will not provide them birth control, then they are always free to seek employment somewhere else". Being offended by a work of art seems to be rather petty in comparison, so suck it up there little darlin' and if you don't like it, find another job.

Don Whiteley 4 years ago

I'm an independent and I have no particular fondness for Brownback, but the disparity between how liberals view their own freedom of expression and how they view others has always shocked me. This painting is as offensive as several of Brownback's actions, but had this painting been of Kathleen Sebelious, the left would have been outraged. It seems liberals are allowed to freely express their feelings, but are infuriated when anyone else does, which really makes them hypocrits to their own cause.

verity 4 years ago

Same old liberal bashing ad naseum.

If you had actually read the comments you would have seen that many liberals were supporting taking the picture down and/or saying it was bad. And how do you know what we would have said if it was a picture of our former governor? You don't. Just another silly excuse to bash liberals.

Topple 4 years ago

Ironic seeing a liberal complain about being bashed on LJWorld.

fiddleback 4 years ago

Of course, the most obvious and dumb straw-man...

Go ahead, distant_voice, show me good example of lefties demanding that art that offends them be taken down. In this case many are objecting simply because the owner removed it without any discussion with the artist, who probably would have been amenable.

4 years ago

"show me good example of lefties demanding that art that offends them be taken down"

OK: 'Like several other aldermen here, Allan Streeter was incensed when he learned that a portrait of the late Mayor Harold Washington, depicted in frilly lingerie, was hanging among an exhibition of student works at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

'So Mr. Streeter and several other black alderman, accompanied by police officers, marched into the museum's annex Wednesday evening and, over the protests of students who tried to block their way, took down the portrait of the city's first black Mayor, wrapped it in brown paper and removed it from the building...

(but that's not the best part)

'On Wednesday the 50-member City Council, which includes 28 white aldermen, passed a resolution sponsored by black aldermen that threatened to cut off public funds to the Art Institute if the painting was not removed....

,And the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, which includes representatives of the main Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish organizations in the city, issued a statement expressing its ''moral dismay'' over the painting.

Now, in all fairness, some "lefties" stood upon principle, the ACLU most notably. However, the institute itself was the most craven of all:

'An art school apologized in advertisements appearing in Sunday newspapers here for exhibiting a student's portrait of the late Mayor Harold Washington in lingerie.

''All educational institutions encourage students' freedom of expression,'' the School of the Art Institute said in full-page advertisements in The Chicago Sun-Times and The Chicago Tribune.

''Regrettably, in the use of his freedom, this student created a work that had the effect of insulting the memory of an important leader, Mayor Harold Washington.''

Burn Sam if you want, dunk Christ in a jar of urine, but never, ever use your freedom to insult the memory of Mayor Washington.

Katara 4 years ago


A guy got upset about a painting and convinced some people to be upset about it too?

He was in the wrong to insist on its removal and he was in the wrong to prevent the student from displaying their artwork.

I guess if that's the best you've got...

Lauren Baruth-Stromberg 4 years ago

I'm sorry but, he's my cousin and I'm not at all offended. In fact I agree with it... Don't tell my Aunt please.

Haiku_Cuckoo 4 years ago

I think the whole Lichtenstein-like cartoon thing has been way overdone over the years, so I probably wouldn't have displayed it based on that alone. I don't think the message is offensive though. It's just somebody sharing a political opinion.

oldexbeat 4 years ago

Handled equally bad as Brownback did that high school girl tweeting about him -- hard to handle stuff well when you have zero ability to try and understand other sides to an issue -- ie, in brownbackistan, if the Gov doesn't like something (think Kansas Art Council), it just goes away, no matter the cost.

Pepe 4 years ago

Must be a slow news day if this non-issue makes the paper. Welcome to the LJworld where the front page article is that a restaurant (which isn't even in Lawrence) decided to remove a painting. Some hard-hitting journalism here.

audvisartist 4 years ago

Let's get a Kickstarter going to get a huge billboard of the painting placed right next to the restaurant.

sci4all 4 years ago

Oh c'mon. Do we really believe Brownback's office had nothing to do with this? The same folks who hounded a teenager for tweeting "heblowsalot"?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years ago

If you can't take the heat, GETOUTOF THE KITCHEN!!! (Ya listenin' San??)

bd 4 years ago

It is not art , it is a political poster and a bad one at that!

beatrice 4 years ago

You mean, like he might have attended an art class partially funded by the NEA or watched Big Bird growing up?

beatrice 4 years ago

Oh, please explain how being an extreme conservative equates in your head to being a "Liberal in the classical sense." That should be entertaining.

MarcoPogo 4 years ago

More stories about art in Topeka!!!

Kathy Theis-Getto 4 years ago

Showing art in Topeka, the guy's first mistake.

JackMcKee 4 years ago

Brownback sure is a sensitive wittle baby

JackMcKee 4 years ago

It has everything to do with Sam. The same wittle baby that got his feelings hurt by a little girl's tweet. His skin is wafer thin. What a wimp.

beatrice 4 years ago

I am all for more art in our daily lives. However, this isn't an art gallery or museum we are talking about, it is a restaurant. The owners have every right to remove any decor they choose, no questions asked. I can also sympathize with the rational. The owner has no obligation at all to not censor the art that goes on his walls. Geez.

The artist has every right to make the image, but he doesn't have the guarantee of displaying the work in a private business. Supporters of Brownback may find the work objectionable, which could harm business. Who needs that if you are trying to make a buck?

If the artist is that upset about being censored, why doesn't he demand that all of his pictures come down?

jafs 4 years ago

The restaurant owners have that right, the question is whether or not their landlord has it, if there's no specific language in their lease giving them that right.

I can't imagine why an artist would voluntarily remove more of their art if they were upset about having to remove one piece - kind of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

beatrice 4 years ago

And what does the restaurant owner have to say on the topic? While the curator may not be happy, what about the restaurant owner? It appears that they were in agreement with the landlord. I would agree that if there isn't something in the lease agreement, then the building owners should only be allowed to ask.

As far as why the artist might want to remove the rest of his work, it would be a matter of principle. By leaving the rest of the work up is to be complicit in the initial censorship. There are plenty of examples in exhibitions of a work being censored and artists removing the rest of their show. Sometimes, in group shows, one artist being censored drives other artists to remove their works to show support. That is why.

On a side note, when I was young my mother used to use that nose cutting line. It always freaked me out because I could picture people without noses. Yikes.

jafs 4 years ago

Don't know.

But, we do know that it was the landlord, not the restaurant owner, that wanted it taken down in the first place.

The restaurant owner complied, but that doesn't mean they agreed with the landlord.

And, I think the same - without specific language in the lease, landlords don't have any right to require tenants to remove artwork.


elkwc36 4 years ago

You would think that either the artist or those so upset with the removal would rent/buy a property and exhibit it. They are bashing a property owner for his decision but then they aren't willing to invest the time and money required to own and manage a property along with operating a business. They have no right to make decisions about property they have nothing invested in.

johnwoods 4 years ago

I read from another source that the manager of the restaurant was the wife of the building's owner. So it doesn't look like the landlord was making the tenant do anything they didn't want.

It may be censorship, but there is nothing wrong a private business making this choice of not displaying a political message.

I dislike Brownback and all he stands for but...

After the Chick-Fil-A fiasco, when will businesses learn that politics and business don't mix well. If you want to alienate customers, use your business for political reasons.

jafs 4 years ago

Who owns the restaurant?

That would be the person who has the authority to make that decision, not the manager, in my view.

And, the question remains - if a landlord doesn't have specific language in the lease about such things, do they have the right to insist tenants remove art from the walls?

Seems unlikely to me that they would - that would mean they can tell their tenants what art to have, music to listen to, books to read, etc. all of which are obviously and correctly outside their scope, in my view.

beatrice 4 years ago

Please give us the exact quotes where Obama and Hillary apologized for American free speech.

Thanks in advance.

beatrice 4 years ago

In other words, you can't. Thanks for admitting you make false statements.

verity 4 years ago

How many people knew about Loewenstein before this flap? How many people have heard about him now? Need I say more?

Liberty275 4 years ago

"Need I say more?"

Technically you were asking, not saying. One other thing you might ask - "how many hours before 99% of the people reading what you wrote forgets that he even exists?" I haven't even bothered to look at his name.

beatrice 4 years ago

Dave Loewenstein Dave Loewenstein Dave Loewenstein

Now you have.

Liberty275 4 years ago

I'll forget it in a few minutes, but thanks anyway.

Liberty275 4 years ago

Matt Livingston? Littleton? Johnsonton? That's not even a real name.

See, it's already gone.

4 years ago

Tonight, let it be Lowenbrau.

woodscolt 4 years ago

Matt Livingston? Littleton? Johnsonton? Liberty 275? That's not even a real name.

See, it's already gone.


Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years ago

You can't buy publicity like this. Thanks to thin skinned people the artist now has more recognition for the work than he ever would have had. Dave Loewenstein:1 Sam Brownback supporters:0 The advantage goes to the artist, in this case.

4 years ago

Katara: "I guess if that's the best you've got..."

What more do you want? Fiddleback requested a "good example of lefties demanding that art that offends them be taken down" and I presented an example of "lefties" not only demanding that offensive art be taken down, but a) showing up with police to take it down, b) passing a resolution to de-fund the art school if it was replaced, and c) other liberals falling in line and expressing "moral dismay" and apologizing that an art student made fun of Harold Washington*.

Yes, the Chicago aldermen, the police, the churches, and the art school were in the wrong to demand that this artwork be taken down. I said as much and even gave props to the ACLU for saying as much. They are to be commended for their consistency and dedication to principle.

However, if you don't find that to be a "good example of lefties demanding that art that offends them be taken down," that's fine, all you need to do is present the data that shows the Chicago aldermen are big fans of Rush Limbaugh. If you can't, well, here in the grownups' sandbox, "nuh-uh" is seldom a convincing argument.

*Doubtless you've noticed the same churches lining up to express "moral dismay" at making fun of Sam. Well, it'll happen any minute now.

Katara 4 years ago

That is not a good example. "Lefties" were not demanding it to be taken down. One guy demanded it to be taken down and convinced some others to agree with him. He is an a$$hat for doing so. And if you notice, not one of the "Lefties" on this forum were agreeing with that action.

It is funny how you seem to think it is representative of "lefties". Heck, the ACLU (supposedly a "leftie" group even though they defend everyone whose rights have been compromised) disagreed with this man's actions. This is hardly representative of "Lefties" (I am still not sure what those are supposed to be. Right wingers tend to label anything that is not exactly what they agree with as "leftie").

The Chicago Alderman were convinced by a fellow alderman that is a jerk to act upon this. The police don't get to pick and choose when and where they show up if their presence is requested. The churches were probably more upset about a man being show in women's lingerie than who the man was. And the art school was worried about potential funding loss. But somehow they are all part of the "leftie" outage about a picture.

Again, if this is the best you've got....

Really, your example isn't even a good comparison to this. A Landlord decided that a picture might upset another person and requested the artwork to be removed. It appears that the landlord didn't even ask the other person if the picture bothered them. The landlord requested that the picture be removed because it might upset someone, not because it did.

In you example, the guy was actually offended by the picture and took action to have it removed.

Are you able to discern the difference in the motivations for the actions? And are you able to understand that neither action is representative of right wingers or lefties?

4 years ago

"It is funny how you seem to think it is representative of "lefties"."

I never said it was representative of lefties, and twice I went out of my way to praise those lefties who were principled in their opposition to this action. I'm not sure who you're arguing against - apparently it's some stereotypical conservative of your own imagining - but it's certainly not my words.

One commenter asked for an example, I gave it. If you don't want to see the genii, don't rub the lamp. Your attempts to downplay it do you and all liberalism an injustice, for showing up with the police, physically removing others' property, and threatening to de-fund an entire school over one offensive picture is not "one guy" out of line. It is a systemic and coercive suppression of free speech. I'm glad you dislike it - now realize that lefties, like righties, are not lily white in this respect. That's the real lesson here.

"The churches were probably more upset about a man being show in women's lingerie than who the man was"

Please, don't make it up if you don't know. The churches complained that the painting ''betrays a lack of sensitivity which we could have expected from those who were responsible for its showing.'' They were the sensitivity police, standing up for those who would be offended rather than for free expression.

Katara 4 years ago

Interesting. A poster made the challenge "show me good example of lefties demanding that art that offends them be taken down." and you presented your example of such.

And now you claim that you never said it was representative of "lefties" and further backpedal with "now realize that lefties, like righties, are not lily white in this respect. That's the real lesson here."

You weren't able to meet the challenge. Please just admit that. It is much more honest to do than to continue to act as if you did or attempt to pretend that was not your intent when you replied to it.

As for the churches... churches are not champions of free speech nor are they representative of this figmentary group of "lefties". The vague statement of complaint they issued really doesn't meant squat and my point of them probably being more upset about a man in ladies' undies still stands. That statement neither proves it nor disproves it.

It is also funny that you seem to think I have some stereotypical conservative image while you state this " Your attempts to downplay it do you and all liberalism an injustice". You must have some stereotypical liberal of your own imaging.

4 years ago

Katara "And now you claim that you never said it was representative of "lefties" and further backpedal with..."

I never said it was representative, but that it was an example. There's a huge difference which you are ignoring. The commenter asked for a "good example of lefties demanding that art that offends them be taken down"

Chicago's aldermen, especially its black aldermen, qualify as "lefties." They are to a person Democrats and mostly liberal democrats. They showed up at a public art gallery, with police, and physically removed a painting that offended them. I'd say that qualifies as "good example of lefties demanding that art that offends them be taken down."

I'm not sure what part of "example" that very fitting example fails to meet. IMO, it's challenge accepted, met, owned.

Katara 4 years ago

Add moving the goalposts to the list of things you are doing now.

And then you go on to explain further how your "example" is a good representation of "lefties" because black Chicago aldermen qualify as "lefties" (Did you forget that you included the 28 white Chicago aldermen in your original post?).

You obviously want to keep on with the "well, they do it too" argument and you keep pursuing it even though your example was not a good one.

If that is the level you want to exist on, feel free. I'm not interested in it. Thanks for playing though.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years ago

How does Liz Brownback feel about the Print? All I hear are people around her worrying this print might offend her. She is capable of making these decisions on her own, is she not? I am sure she is. Let her speak. If this print is offensive to her(since this IS what this is all about) Let her say so. Other wise, this is much ado about nothing.Give her credit for being a young woman with an intellect and the ability to form her own opinion. I am sure the print is not that big a deal to a young woman who loves her family and KNOWS what business her Dad is in.

classclown 4 years ago

Regardless of why it was removed, the artist needs to stop being a baby about it.

msezdsit 4 years ago

“I felt that this was meant to be mean-spirited and spiteful, so I let my conscience make the decision,” he said. “And I hope that people will understand that and try to divorce the political side from the actual situation.” very very very lame.

Yep, had nothing to do with art, just a brownback supporter who felt they had to exert their personal biases. Wonder if the the family member promoted this decision or if they were just exploited by Ready to deflect some of Ready's deserved criticism.

Armstrong 4 years ago

A case of arts and crap gone bad. Class move on the part of the restaurant

imastinker 4 years ago

Last time I remember a business stick their neck out politically it was the president of Chick Fil A. We all remember where that got the company.....

Commercial leases can and do have a lot of rules that dictate the behavior of the tenant. They can say whatever the two parties want. They are much different than a residential lease.

Katara 4 years ago

It won't affect Blue Planet much, if at all. They have a very loyal following for the food. I've not been yet but I have heard many good reviews. Also, vegetarian fare is scarce in Topeka. It is one of the few places that does vegan too.

lunacydetector 4 years ago

could the cartoon be construed as a threat?

Leslie Swearingen 4 years ago

“Reject Brownback” is a spray-painted stencil print...
Sounds like a sixth grade art project to me. The man is not an artist because he has nothing original to offer.

MarcoPogo 4 years ago

Did you just bring Thomas Kinkade into this?

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years ago

A spray painted stencil print is not what Dave Loewenstein is most noted for. Murals that he designed and collaborated on are all over the country. There are some in Lawrence. Dave has done alot of good with his work especially with projects geared toward low income and inner city kids. This print is not fully representative of his work.

Flap Doodle 4 years ago

Does anybody know where I could get about 400 liters of urine? Doesn't have to be human. I need it to finish my Wee Wee Jesse Jackson Jr. art project?

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Support Political Art YES!

No one is strong armed into agreeing with it....

No doubt the art work could find thousands of backers .... in Kansas most certainly.

Thanks Dave Loewenstein for expressing yourself.

4 years ago

"No one is strong armed into agreeing with it...."

Merrill, you are half correct. No one is strong armed into agreeing with art, that's a fact and one that we, as Americans, should celebrate.

But it will really be worth celebrating when no one is strong armed into paying for it.

booyalab 4 years ago

If they weren't going to keep it up for the political message, they should at least keep it up because it's an aesthetic masterpiece...

Floyd424 4 years ago

Poor Liz Brownback - what is she three years old. Did she forget her father is a public figure and that is goes with the territory? Grow up, but then we are in Kansas where Art doesn't matter. Just ask Brownback about killing The Arts in Kansas.

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