Even as advertisers flee El Rushbo, a couple of local artists are making money off the firebrand. Sean Hogge decided to raise a little cash for Planned Parenthood after hearing the comments. The 31-year-old systems administrator Photoshopped an image of a smug-looking Limbaugh giving a thumbs-up on T-shirts along with the slogan, “Rush thinks I’m a slut.”
The shirts sell for $24.54 on redbubble.com. Hogge earns $4.40 from each shirt sold, which he is donating to the nonprofit reproductive-health organization. Hogge says the reaction so far has been mostly positive.
“A couple of people did say, ‘Yeah, you’re making light of a very serious situation. What he’s doing to women and Miss Fluke is completely unconscionable,’” he says. “The goal that I’m hoping to achieve here is to lessen the impact of what he’s done with ridicule.”
Hogge says he has sold three or four shirts. “I think it’s something that everyone can get behind, whether you’re a male or a female,” he says.
If your tastes run a little pricier, the Leopold Gallery in Brookside has a deal for you. For about $15,000, you can own one of six Limbaugh busts. The Leopold represents local sculptor E. Spencer Schubert, who created a bust of Limbaugh for the Hall of Famous Missourians at the state Capitol.
Schubert made busts for the hall of Negro Leagues star Buck O’Neil and of Dred Scott, the anti-slavery pioneer who fought unsuccessfully for his own freedom. But Schubert found himself in a firestorm when Limbaugh’s induction to the hall was announced. In a press release, Schubert said he was “honored” to contribute the sculptures, regardless of the subjects’ political views.
“As a sculptor, I decided long ago that the criteria for accepting commissions would be whether or not they are artistically interesting,” Schubert said in the release. “I knew this would be an interesting project, due to the fact that there are strong opinions on either side about Rush. If it were left to sculptors to choose who was honored with portraits, the entire history of portraiture would look dramatically different.”
Leopold owner Paul Dorrell says Schubert isn’t just trying to make a quick buck.
“No one is trying to cash in on this. Spencer certainly isn’t,” Dorrell says. ”But any artist who endeavors to make a living and support their family through the creation of original art, whether they live in New York, Paris or Kansas City, has an enormous, lifelong, uphill battle ahead of them.”
Dorrell says his gallery will not profit from the sale of Limbaugh busts, which will be poured as they’re ordered. But he will handle the transactions.
Dorrell’s decision not to take a cut of the Limbaugh busts, however, differs from the sales of other Schubert busts, such as O’Neil and Scott.
“They contributed to Missouri history significantly and in a positive way,” Dorrell says. “And there hasn’t been enough time passed to assess Rush Limbaugh’s life, no matter how you assess his controversial nature. And I’m just not convinced that he’s a historic figure.”
So far, lovers of Rush-centric art are staying away. No Limbaugh bronzes have been ordered.