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Artist upset anti-Brownback print taken down

Published on -10/4/2012, 3:24 PM

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A Lawrence artist is disappointed that one of his prints that is critical of Sam Brownback has been removed from a cafe in Topeka because the Kansas governor's daughter works in the same building.

The stencil print by Dave Lowenstein shows Brownback with tears in his eyes and flames behind him. The governor is saying "Kansans pleeease ... stop me." Lowenstein said the print is his comment on what he calls Brownback's damaging policies.

Greg Ready, who co-owns the building that houses the Blue Planet Cafe where the print had been displayed, said he removed it out of respect for Liz Brownback who works at Gizmo Pictures, a business located above the cafe, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/QuVd44 ).

"This decision has nothing to do with politics or our belief in your freedom of speech through art. Liz is a valued employee and friend to us and I (we) felt strongly against subjecting her to having to look at a picture of her father burning at her place of employment," Ready said in an email to Lowenstein. "It should also be noted that this decision was made by me, with the backing of my business partner Jeff, and not at the request of Liz."

Loewenstein, who has been an artist for 30 years, said Ready misinterpreted the print. He said the flames are behind Brownback and do not indicate the governor is on fire.

"I respect the folks at Gizmo's right to display what they want," Loewenstein said. "I'm just really disappointed because I think their actions are out of proportion."

Michaela Carmen, the Blue Planet Cafe's art curator, said the restaurant employees were disappointed the painting was removed. She said the cafe expected Lowenstein's work to be good for business. It was to be part of a featured display on Friday.

"We support local art," Carmen said. "We are very anti-censorship in any art."

Other works in the exhibit criticize Secretary of State Kris Kobach and state Rep. Virgil Peck, who was criticized last year for comparing illegal immigrants to feral hogs and joking that they should be shot.

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