WASHINGTON — The painting at the center of a grudge match between congressional Republicans and Democrats that depicts police officers as pigs violated the rules of a district congressional art competition it won, a Republican congressman contends.
According to a letter Wednesday from Washington Republican Rep. Dave Reichert, a former law enforcement officer, to U.S. Capitol Architect Stephen T. Ayers, the artwork is “in clear violation of Suitability Guidelines outlined in the official rues for the competition.”
Reichert goes on to say, “The 2016 Rules and Regulations for the Congressional Art Competition distinctly prohibit sensationalistic artwork and artwork that depicts contemporary political controversies. The guidelines state: ‘Artwork must adhere to the policy of the House Office Building Commission. In accordance with this policy, exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed. It is necessary that all artwork be reviewed by the panel chaired by the Architect of the Capitol and any portion not in consonance with the Commission’s policy will be omitted from the exhibit.'”
“The artwork ‘Untitled #1’ does not meet these criteria,” Reichert says.
The Washington Republican writes, “The May 6, 2016 press release from Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay [the one who put up the painting] announcing the winner describes the artwork as the portrayal of ‘a colorful landscape of symbolic characters representing social injustice, the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri and the lingering elements of inequality in modern American society.’ Rep. Clay’s statement acknowledges that the painting portrays a matter of contemporary political controversy. Further, Rep. Clay has publicly stated that the artist ‘just doesn’t have respect for police who use the cover of a blue uniform to do animalistic things to people.’ The artwork’s depiction of law enforcement as animals shooting citizens is both sensationalistic and gruesome in nature.”
Reichert called on Ayers to review “Untitled #1” and to use the rules and regulations of the competition to determine on its qualifications whether or not it should continue to hang in the Capitol.
Although the painting managed to go unnoticed for several months in the Capitol’s Cannon Tunnel, Independent Journal Review first brought its existence to light almost two weeks ago, setting off a series of press releases from law enforcement groups calling for its removal and Republican members actually removing it and returning it to Clay’s office — only to have it returned to Cannon Tunnel by Clay himself.