Radical feminist art has found a new home in Rockford, Illinois—or at least, you might think so, if you went to Rockford’s Riverfront Museum Park on April 6. There, in Rockford’s ever-evolving “cultural corridor,” you could view the works of “cultural critic” Mary Ellen Croteau, which included a Mason jar full of pickled—er, it was titled “Men I Have Known.”
Croteau, a fifty-something feminist with a Cheshire-cat grin and horn-rimmed glasses, gave a slide-show presentation of her work entitled “Imagining Women: Misogyny through the Ages.” Two of her pieces—”Madonna and Child” and “The Annunciation”—were featured in the local Gannett paper. The former is a knock-off of Sebastiano del Pionibo’s 16th-century masterpiece of the same name; Croteau has given the bambino a sex-change operation, and both “Mary” and “Jesus” are now Asian. Even more stunning is her “Annunciation”—Gabriel has the face of Randall Terry, who holds a dead fetus; this time, Mary stands pointing away from him (as in “There’s the door”), cocksure and with her other hand on her hip.
Croteau hails from the Windy City east of Rockford, where she received training at the Art Institute after her husband left her and their children high and dry in 1973. Having become pregnant by a heretofore unnamed man, she was “forced” to have an abortion. In the absence of Jerry Springer, who had not yet arrived on the scene in Chicago, she turned to high art to express her rage. A victim (so she says) of date rape as a young co-ed, she had been nursing a hatred for all things patriarchal and Christian for several oppressed years.
Rockford must be nurturing some hatred as well, since its taxpayer-supported Riverfront Museum Park played host to this antichrist of pop art. The campus just two blocks away from Chronicles‘ headquarters—is owned by the Rockford Park District, a governmental body separate from the City of Rockford. Bewildered by an eternal desegregation lawsuit, white flight, and the highest property taxes in the United States, Rockfordians are quick to point to the Park District as one of the city’s main attractions, and they allow themselves to be taxed even more to maintain the parks, golf courses, and “cultural corridor.” One question remains: Are the taxpayers of Rockford really that eager to spend their time (and money) wallowing in anti-Christian bigotry?
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