Kalispell trucker Kathleen Folden, who drove to Loveland, Colo., in October to destroy a piece of art she believed desecrated Jesus Christ, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal mischief in Larimer County District Court on Friday. The plea deal orders that Folden serve 18 months unsupervised probation, perform 24 hours community service, and undergo mental health treatment. A hearing is set for Jan. 28 to determine appropriate restitution.
But some believe it's not a severe enough punishment, including Susan Ison, director of the Loveland Museum/Gallery, which Folden stormed into on Oct. 6 carrying a crowbar.
"[Folden's] attorneys portrayed it as being a peaceful act, and it certainly wasn't," Ison says. "When the crowbar hit the plexiglass the first time most of the people in the building actually thought it was a [gun] shot, because it made a loud, sharp noise. So there was a lot of fear and it certainly was a traumatic thing...I just don't think it was taken as seriously as it should have been."
Wearing a T-shirt that read, "My Savior Is Tougher Than Nails," Folden entered the museum, broke through the plexiglass and ripped up the controversial lithograph. The work, part of an exhibition by Stanford University professor Enrique Chagoya, depicted Jesus with large breasts and red-painted fingernails being pleasured by a young man, with the word "Orgasmo" displayed in the background.
Titled "The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals," the collection of images was a critique of the church, Chagoya says, not of faith. In an attempt to "make peace with the Christian community," Chagoya agreed to paint Christ's resurrection for Loveland's Resurrection Fellowship Congregation, free of charge. That's not the only positive thing to come of Folden's rage.
"[The gallery] got a huge number of donations after the incident," Ison says. "We took in about $6,000, which is more than we had taken in up to that date."
But the money's not enough to distract Ison from what she sees as the overarching problem.
"People don't seem to be able to disagree anymore in a civil way," she says. "Everybody's so polarized."
The Independent was unable to reach Folden for comment.