Provo artist's painting of Trump clutching American flag gets mixed reactions

Jon McNaughton newest painting of President Donald Trump clutching an American flag in the middle of a football field titled, "Respect the Flag," causes varied reactions. (Photo: John McNaughton / YouTube)

(KUTV) -- Jon McNaughton is accustomed to criticism for his artwork, and reaction from his recent painting of President Donald Trump clutching an American flag in the middle of a football field is no different.

"I paint a lot of provocative images that invoke a lot of emotion so it doesn't bother me," McNaughton said.

The Provo resident said the idea for the painting originated from watching National Football League (NFL) players bend on one knee during the rendition of the National Anthem in protest of inequality and injustice.

He said being a visual thinker that he contemplated and pondered the professional athlete's actions for weeks.

After Trump took to Twitter with his outspoken views of disdain about the player's behavior, including a call for the league to suspend any players who took a knee for one game or more, McNaughton envisioned a scene he made come alive in his painting titled, "Respect the Flag."

"If it occurred in real life with Trump picking up the American flag after NFL players had trampled it under their feet, and I think he would've done that, the entire stadium would have burst out in standing applause so for me that's a strong visual image," McNaughton said.

Sean Hannity agreed. The conservative political commentator tweeted a link to a YouTube video featuring the painting saying, "The 'left' loves art, and especially taxpayer funded art that is 'provocative'. Let's get their reaction to this."

Reactions did come on social media, blogs, and articles in various mediums. Dave Holmes addressed Hannity directly in Esquire saying, "Sean, are you so dug into this childish bifurcation of the American public that you are willing to cede all of art to the left?"

Holmes continued with his personal interpretation of the painting saying in part that it is "...the most revealing, coherent, thematically rich, vital, challenging piece of art I’ve come across in ages..."

He then painted his own interpretation of McNaughton's artwork saying, "In this painting, the flag is not deserving of respect because of what it is, it deserves respect because the president is hugging it to his chest. His body language suggests that the American flag has become one of his possessions, and the message is clear: Don’t take care of the ol’ Stars and Stripes because it’s yours, take care of it because it’s mine."

Others reacted similarly, like Agustin de Hiponia who responded to Hannity in a tweet that said the President "...looks lost and disoriented, it's perfect!"

James Schaaf tweeted that he "fixed" the painting with what appears to be a PhotoShop edit switching out the American flag for the Russian Federation flag.

Despite the differing views about his painting, McNaughton said he's received an outpouring of support and positive feedback.

"I feel really good about my painting but the reactions are pretty much how I expected because the country is divided on the issue and I wanted to draw attention to my side of the aisle because I don't think people understand the importance of the American flag," McNaughton said. "It's not just a piece of cloth. It represents those who suffered and died for this country and it was very offensive in the case of the NFL players who took a knee, and even more offensive from the NFL who didn't do anything to stop it."

Additional artwork by McNaughton can be viewed by clicking here.

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