WARR ACRES — The local artist who designed a crucifix some say shows genitalia on Jesus plans to modify the piece in effort to end the controversy it has caused. Janet Jaime, an Oklahoma City iconographer, came under fire for a crucifix she designed that since February has been above the main altar at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Warr Acres. Church officials now plan to remove the crucifix so Jaime can modify it. At issue is Jesus’ abdominal area, which some say looks like a large penis. The church’s pastor released a statement to parishioners Friday announcing the crucifix would be modified. "It certainly is not the intention of the artist or myself that the cross of Jesus Christ be a source of division or result in disrespectful statements,” the Rev. Philip Seeton wrote. Parishioners welcome the news. "It is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Rita Cook, who has attended the church for 35 years. "Any attempt by Father Seeton to bring closure to this issue in some part will bring hopefully good intentions to show that as the pastor of St. Charles he is willing to work with his parishioners.” The crucifix has been divisive for parishioners, some of whom left the church because they were offended by it. Jaime’s husband said Friday his wife remains too distraught over the controversy to speak publicly about it. "She’s a sensitive person,” Reggie Jaime said. "It’s just bothering her to pieces.” Mark Gilmore, a local artist and friend of Janet Jaime, said it appears the iconographer put too much contrast on Jesus’ abdomen, making it appear like a penis rather than an abdomen. "It was entirely accidental,” Gilmore said. "She is very serious about her religion and wouldn’t in the slightest possibility ever imagine wanting to sneak a pee-pee on to Jesus.” Gilmore, who helped Janet Jaime move the 10-foot tall crucifix out of her studio at her home near The Paseo Arts District before it was taken to the church, said it is difficult to tell while painting how contrast may appear from far away. "She was maybe a foot away from it all the time she was painting it, and the only way you can see this is when it’s up and you’re 20 or 30 feet away, and then you get this gestalt of, ‘oh, look,’” Gilmore said. Gilmore said he and Reggie Jaime have a "loose” business partnership in a graphic design company.
Texas church’s pastor praises artist’s workParishioners enjoy the 19 religious icons designed by Janet Jaime on display in St. Benedict’s Western Rite Orthodox Church in Wichita Falls, Texas, the church’s pastor said. "Her work is absolutely superb, and actually getting better through the years,” said the Rev. James Rooney. "She’s a very faithful Orthodox Christian who takes seriously what the church asks her to do.” Rooney’s church first commissioned religious icons from Janet Jaime about 10 years ago and has since ordered more. "If anyone asked me to recommend an iconographer, I wouldn’t even mention anyone else,” Rooney said. Rooney said he hopes the controversy surrounding the crucifix in Warr Acres "doesn’t affect her adversely, because she has got such a gift to give to the church.” The Oklahoman’s Watchdog Team: Looking out for you. Visit NewsOK.com/watchdog.