Chocolate Nude Jesus Gets Booted From Hotel’s Gallery

Chocolate Jesus
NEW YORK – Outraged Catholics led by Edward Cardinal Egan forced the cancellation yesterday of a planned Holy Week exhibit of a nude, anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ.
A refrigerated truck hauled the 6-foot, 200-pound creation – “My Sweet Lord” – from a gallery in the Roger Smith Hotel in midtown where it was to go on display Monday.
Egan branded the controversial confectionery “scandalous” and called it a “sickening display.”
“The Catholic community is alerted to this offense of our faith and sensitivities. This is something we will not forget,” Egan said.
Bill Donohue, head of the watchdog Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said it was “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.”
Lab Gallery creative director Matt Semler said he submitted his resignation when the E. 47th St. hotel shut down the show, saying critics misunderstood its intent.
“I’ve got a lot of people saying it was beautiful,” he said. “A lot of people said the image of Christ was put back to something holy with this piece.”
The hotel and the gallery were overrun with angry phone calls and e-mails. Semler said there were death threats over the work of artist Cosimo Cavallaro.
James Knowles, president of the Roger Smith, said public outrage was “crystal-clear,” so executives wished to “affirm the dignity and responsibility of the hotel” by canceling the exhibition.
The cancellation came just hours after yesterday’s Daily News front-page story about Cavallaro’s work, which presents Christ with his arms outstretched – and unlike typical religious portrayals – without a loincloth.
After getting the boot, Cavallaro said: “I’m totally disappointed. If you look at the whole picture, the Catholic Church terrorizes business and artists that don’t agree with them. My whole premise was positive. I was trying to achieve true beauty.”
He shrugged off criticisms against the revealing nature of the sculpture.
“There are naked statues of Christ in St. Peter’s but they’re in marble. I guess it’s the chocolate that has the negative implication. But that’s wrong. What bad can you say about chocolate?” Cavallaro said.
The artist said he will look for another gallery to show his work.
Even so, it’s unlikely Mayor Bloomberg will run out to see it.
On his weekly WABC-AM radio show, Hizzoner said people will often “take advantage” of the holiday season to make a statement. He recommended ignoring the chocolate Jesus as the best solution.
“You want to give that guy some publicity? Talk about it more. Make a big fuss. Go picket him. He’ll love it,” Bloomberg said. “You want to really hurt him? Just don’t pay any attention.”
The public, though, offered differing opinions to the chocolate meltdown.
“It should have gone up as planned. It just isn’t offensive,” said John Stein, 27, outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“We know that he was a man, so the anatomy isn’t offensive,” he added. “And there is no difference between a chocolate Jesus, a wooden Jesus or a marble Jesus.”
Ernest Anthony, 21, an office worker from Flatbush, said it’s disrespectful.
“God wouldn’t appreciate a chocolate shrine of Jesus. It just isn’t respectful to the religion. A chocolate mosque would be just as offensive,” he said.
from The New York Daily News

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