A day after defending an artist from allegations of white supremacy, the Tim Faulkner Gallery announced Friday it is reversing course and removing the art show of Kevin Caster, who also decided not to renew his lease with the Portland art studio.
Caster’s artwork and opinions about protecting “European Americans” from “miscegenation” had recently come under fire from Louisville Anti-Racist Action, the same group that on Thursday night participated in the confrontation of white supremacists dining at The Irish Rover on Frankfort Avenue, chanting “Nazis out!” as restaurant management asked the diners to leave.
The Faulkner Gallery exhibit
In a press release Thursday, Louisville ARA said they initially brought their concerns about Caster’s art show — titled “Will the Goyim’s Children Curse ‘Em?” — to Tim Faulkner, whom they say defended Caster’s work but promised to remove pieces from the show that contained swastikas. Louisville ARA also stated bluntly that Caster “is a white supremacist” who works with organizers for the Traditionalist Workers Party, a neo-Nazi white nationalist group that has made headlines in Kentucky over the past year.
Louisville ARA claimed Caster posted under a pseudonym at the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website and regularly meets with other local members of that site, including at his show’s opening. They also posted screenshots from Caster’s Facebook page, including one in which he claimed that “because European Americans hold the key for the collapsing of the totalitarian globalist slave project we’re their primary target… Knock us out via tools such as massive immigration, stripped identity, false narratives, miscegenation, guilt and shame, feminism and the sexual revolution and voila, the path for these swine to get what they want is all cleared out.”
According to Louisville ARA, Caster admitted to posting under the pseudonym at Daily Stormer but defended his actions and his show by claiming they are “performance art,” and his persona should be seen as a character in a film he’s producing. The group rejected that explanation and said the Tim Faulkner Gallery should not “provide a platform for white supremacy and white nationalism, no matter how subtle, edgy or artsy it is.”
“Even if Caster were engaging in performance art in this manner, he would be giving voice to anti-Semitic ideas and espousing racial violence while encouraging avowed white nationalists to do the same,” stated the Louisville ARA press release. “This show is an attempt to openly recruit and to disseminate anti-Semitic ideas to our community under the guise of merely ‘asking questions.'”
A response posted Thursday on the Facebook account of the Tim Faulkner Gallery — signed by “Tim, Margaret & our entire family” — defended the character of Caster and criticized the “unfounded” press release of Louisville ARA, stating “it is apparent that they have pulled their trigger much too quickly and now can’t seem to control the aftermath.”
Referring to their gallery as “a diverse group of creatives, none of which are Nazi sympathizers or sympathetic to the cause of any white supremacy organization,” the post stated that their decision not to cancel Caster’s art show or terminate his studio lease “is based on the fact that the ARA cannot provide definitive proof that their claims are true. In addition, we actually know Kevin… We will not destroy him based on circumstances.”
The post further stated that in his five years at Faulkner Gallery, they had “never seen a single indication of hate or bigotry from him,” though “upon our investigation we discovered that the only thing Kevin Caster was guilty of was some poor decision making.” Referring to Caster’s “film project,” the post claims he did follow and join “a couple of organizations online known to be right wing extremists,” which was “part of his research.” It goes on to say that Caster “made the very poor judgment of attending a ‘book club’ meeting” and inviting those people to his show’s opening at the gallery, and that “I and Margaret… expressed our displeasure with his lack of foresight and quite honestly a minimal use of common sense.”
The post does not identify the people in the “book club,” though photos shared by the Louisville ARA show one person at his exhibit wearing a T-shirt bearing the logo of a white supremacist podcast. It closed by noting that the gallery was hosting a Catholic Charities event that night to help refugees, and has previously hosted a hip-hop festival and LGBTQ events, and “will continue to be a place open and welcome to everyone and will not be bullied into causing harm where it certainly doesn’t belong
Several people in the comments to this Facebook post shared screenshots from Caster’s social media account, which the Faulkner Gallery defended. On Caster’s comment that Muslim refugees possess “high propensities for terror, rape and other modes of criminality,” the gallery responded on Facebook that this was “clearly an immediate and fear based response” to a multiple-stabbing by a refugee at Ohio State University that day, which “echoed across the entire country.” On Caster’s comments decrying the mixing of races as an attempt to destroy white people, the Faulkner Gallery replied: “Again, another fear based post that proves absolutely nothing. I don’t have to agree with him, but it doesn’t make him a Nazi… We do not promote white nationalists.”
Despite the defense of Caster and his work a day earlier, the gallery subsequently posted a statement on its Facebook page stating the art show would be removed and the artist would not renew his studio lease, as “hate is not to be tolerated here at Tim Faulkner Gallery.” While acknowledging errors made by Caster, most of the gallery’s response was devoted to criticizing Louisville ARA, which said the local group was just as bad as Nazis.
“Let it be clear that we are not cowering to the bullying tactics demonstrated by the Louisville ARA,” stated the gallery’s post. “We acknowledge that Kevin made a grave error in judgement during his ‘research’ for his film project. However, the hate tactics demonstrated by members of the local ARA are just as abhorrent as the groups they claim to stand against. The persecution of the gallery as white supremacists is completely unfounded and misguided and will not be tolerated.”
“It goes without saying, card carrying Nazis have never been welcomed by Tim Faulkner Gallery and never will be. That sentiment also applies to the rabid fanaticism perpetrated the ARA group,” the post continued. “So, to be clear, Nazis, you are not welcome at TFG, Louisville ARA neither are you. Keep the hate to yourselves.”
Louisville ARA responded to the Faulkner Gallery’s reversal with a statement thanking “everyone who mobilized and shared the information. Louisville ARA’s first point of unity is that we go where they go. Sometimes that puts us in the uncomfortable position of having to look inside our own communities. The Tim Faulkner Gallery was never our target, but we can not allow white supremacy to have a platform in any space.”
On Thursday evening, a group of roughly 40 people that included the Louisville ARA confronted a group of of people at The Irish Rover whom screenshots show had organized on the Daily Stormer website as the “Louisville Book Club.” The confrontation was broadcast live on Facebook accounts, as people shouted “Nazis out!” until the group left; one of the group members was wearing the Nazi SS symbol and another was wearing a shirt with the Rhodesian army on it, a favorite of white supremacists across the globe.
Another Louisville ARA press release on Friday hailed the action at the restaurant, sharing Daily Stormer screenshots from when they were organizing the “book club” event. In one post, someone with a username referencing Nazi Germany’s SS suggested having their meeting on April 20 (Adolf Hitler’s birthday), adding “if you don’t know why that date, lurk more… this is like a Holiday, for me it is anyway.”
Another Daily Stormer poster applauded holding their event in the liberal Clifton neighborhood, stating “Just think of the irony, evil fascists meeting right under the noses of the Commies… you’ll see alot of houses with ‘Black Lives Matter” signs and those gay ass ‘We’re glad you are our neighbor’ signs.”
“Louisville ARA praises the members of our community who joined us in rejecting neo-Nazis meeting in our public spaces, especially the patrons of the Irish Rover who joined in the chants and the owners who demanded that the white supremacists leave their property,” stated the ARA press release.
Management at the Irish Rover told IL they stand behind their decision to ask the group to leave.
Correction: The original version of this story stated a “Louisville Book Club” member brought a cake to the meetup at the Irish Rover, when in fact, it was a protestor.