|Scott LoBaido from Staten Island, N.Y., stands on his|
truck and paints his interpretation of WBC, including
Pastor Fred W. Phelps Sr. and Shirley Phelps-Roper.
His painting, titled "The Truth (Welcome Home)," depicts Pastor Fred W. Phelps Sr., wearing red high heels and pink polka-dotted panties, sitting on the lap of Satan. Phelps' daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, is depicted as a "lap dog" waiting for Satan, LoBaido said.
"To go to a Marine's funeral, in front of their family, and be that despicable is just heart wrenching," LoBaido said Sunday afternoon while adding background details to the painting.
LoBaido, 46, of New York City, is touring the United States for the second time. During 10 months in 2006, he traveled to each state and painted an American flag on rooftops of buildings, businesses and homes.
"I'm on my second tour preaching the patriotic message," LoBaido said about this tour where he is touching up or repainting the flags.
The artist decided to stop in Topeka before heading to Dodge City to repaint a flag on a business that had to replace its roof.
LoBaido waited until noon Sunday to unveil the painting, which he had started in Texas. He spent more than four hours atop his truck painting the Westboro Baptist Church in the background. In the painting, flames are shooting out the windows of the church.
"Thank you, thank you," Phelps-Roper said Sunday in a telephone interview. "This is just a perpetual, nonstop effort by their thinking to stop our words. But God, for his promise, turns it all to us for testimony. You don't have to do much to get eyes looking."
LoBaido plans to put a photograph of the acrylic painting on his website and sell it to the highest bidder. He said he will split the proceeds between his local AIDS foundation and a program that helps build homes for veterans.
"That is going to be an awful small pot to share," Phelps-Roper said. "Keep the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in mind. What will the man give for his soul? Time is running out."
While painting, LoBaido was listening to music by pop singer Lady Gaga. Topeka police officers were called to the scene because of the loud music, said Lt. Chuck Haggard. The New York City artist was issued a citation.
LoBaido said officers said he couldn't be so close to the church while picketing.
"I happen to know the First Amendment pretty good, and I'm not protesting," LoBaido said he told officers. "I'm just an artist painting a painting publicly."
Haggard said: "It is unclear if he was violating the focused picketing of church city ordinance. His actions didn't appear to me to be in violation."
Information gathered by officers will be sent to the Topeka city attorney's office for review, Haggard said.
LoBaido will be back Monday to add the finishing touches to his painting.
Phelps-Roper said the artist should follow the law, do what he needs to do and move along.
"I speak through my canvas," LoBaido said. "I know I speak for the masses."