Woman reflects on art destruction incident

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Six months after she walked into a Loveland, Colo., art gallery and smashed a controversial display with a crowbar, Kathleen Folden's life largely has returned to normal.

The Kalispell woman who was fired in the aftermath of what became a national news story is once again employed as a long-haul trucker.

She recently launched a website explaining her motivation and actions leading up to her Oct. 6, 2010, arrest. Additionally, the website lays out her opinion that the world will soon come to an end and that Bill Gates could be the antichrist.

In an email exchange with the Inter Lake, Folden said she never expected the widespread reactions that followed the destruction of the lithograph print, "The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals," by artist Enrique Chagoya.

"If I had thought about it beforehand, I probably would have thought it would only merit one mention in the local paper on page six," she said. "It actually went global."

Folden, 56, said she heard about the artwork - which some said included a sexual depiction of Jesus - on the radio while taking a load of empty containers from Spokane to Denver.

At a hotel in Casper, Wyo., she researched the issue on the Internet. She bought a crowbar while traveling through Cheyenne, Wyo., shortly thereafter.

Folden wrote that she wore a religiously themed T-shirt as she arrived at the gallery in Loveland.

"I wasn't sure whether or not to take the crowbar inside," she wrote. "I thought about hiding it in the bushes outside. Fortunately, it fit perfectly inside my doubled over fleece jacket."

The rest has been widely reported.

Folden wandered the museum for about 45 minutes before executing her plan. She unveiled the crowbar, smashed it through the glass protecting the display and tore the print.

"Sometime during the night before the incident, God himself said this was what he had brought me to do," she wrote on her website. "Everything else that had happened in my life had been leading up to this point in time."

Folden said she was born and raised near Ronan and Pablo. She graduated from Ronan High School in 1972 and says she studied civil engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman.

"The cost has been high in terms of public perception of me," she said. "Any of my former classmates should remember how squeaky clean I was."

She and her husband, whom she met while working a summer job with the Bureau of Land Management, moved to Kalispell in 1998.

Folden began life as a truck driver in 2004, four years after she and her husband divorced, she said.

It was a job she lost when she was facing possible jail time for a charge of criminal mischief that came as a result of the Loveland incident.

"The incident prevented me from being rehired quickly," she said. "Usually a driver can get a seat in orientation by the following Monday with another company. But with the prospect of jail time hanging over my head, only one company considered hiring me."

Unemployment was an unexpected result of her actions, she said. At most, she thought she might face minor discipline because she had been off-duty.

Overall, Folden said public support and criticism were evenly mixed.

"The haters really spew forth venom," she said. "They called me the Christian Taliban. The Christians, even while offering financial gifts, would often times offer rebukes or sometimes regret having given assistance when they saw others were not following."

She says she is most thankful for the support offered by Cliff Stricklin, a partner in a Denver law firm that defended her and acted as a conduit for donations to her legal fund.

On her website, www.givegodlove.com, she asks readers to send donations to the law firm that assisted her.

She pleaded guilty in November 2010 to misdemeanor criminal mischief and was ordered to pay about $3,000 in restitution.

Folden noted she likely would go to prison if she were to again destroy artwork she finds offensive. She said the onus should be on others to act on God's behalf.

"We will have to wait and see if the Lord orchestrates another such event," she said. "I would be doubly honored to defend my Lord's heart and honor a second time."

Reporter Eric Schwartz may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at eschwartz@dailyinterlake.com.

 

 

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