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Noem Commissioned Aberdeen Prostitutes to Bastardize Mount Rushmore

Intrepid reporter Tom Lawrence not only gets a photo of the aesthetically vapid and civically blasphemous rendition of Mount Rushmore that Kristi Noem gave to her reality-TV idol last summer, but he also tracks down Lee Leuning and Sherri Treeby, the Aberdeen-area prostitutes who forged this bronze embarrassment.

No, really—prostitutes. That’s their word:

Employing what’s known as “lost wax” casting, an ancient process that uses a clay model, hot wax and molten bronze, the duo grafted a bust of Trump in a suit and tie onto the mini-Rushmore.

Three copies were created, Leuning and Treeby revealed recently, with one going to Trump, and the other two to the unidentified donors—the names of whom are unknown even to them.

The pieces are “bookshelf-sized,” Leuning told the Daily Beast—27 inches wide, 12 inches high, and 8-1/2 inches deep.

The partners, who work out of Bad River Artworks in Aberdeen, said they were asked to remain quiet about the project, and this is the first time their names have been disclosed.

…“We’re working artists,” Leuning said. “We’re prostitutes for art. We do art for money” [Tom Lawrence, “The Story Behind Gov. Kristi Noem’s Weird Gift to Donald Trump,” The Daily Beast, 2021.09.05].

Prostitute—of course, because who else would work for Noem or the object of her bronze affection?


  1. jerry 2021-09-05

    Working ladies have more class than these two. Working ladies know there is no attachment to the John’s they service, not like these two, who are obsessed with John.

  2. Arlo+Blundt 2021-09-05

    Well…I certainly won’t be critical of the artists and if you’ve ever been dead broke and one car repair from homeless, we wouldn’t be critical either. South Dakota is a tough place to make it making art, whether visual, performing, sculpture, or with the written word. Everybody needs a payday. Good luck to the ladies…I hope their artistic endeavors meet with enough success in the future that they only have to accept commissions appropriate to their artistic inclinations.

  3. Mark+Anderson 2021-09-05

    Hey, I learned bronze casting from Lynn Carlsgaard in a foundry he set up way back when in the old art center where I had a free studio for teaching figure drawing. This was in Aberdeen of course, but we never referred to ourselves as lady’s of the night. We did work for a number of well known sculptors including Richard Hunt, who when I saw his work I realized I needed to pursue more realism in my own work rather than surrealism which he owned. Those boys should charge what high class whores do, its anal all the way.

  4. grudznick 2021-09-05

    Those two artists, libbie as all get out, do carve up some pretty swell statues. grudznick can abide.

  5. grudznick 2021-09-05

    Rest asurred, my good friends, these are fictional works of art in the mind of grudznick. No one is actually planning on blasting on the Shrine of Democracy, or may the Devil forbid, the old Stone Mountain down there in Georgia or any other statue or piece of art already in place. We will not let grudznick’s granddaughter’s boyfriend, as fine a painter as he is, slap a new ear on the Mona Lisa either or whitewash over any of the Blashfield murals.

  6. Porter Lansing 2021-09-06

    The Blashfield “blasphemy” is as offensive as any Confederate Army statue and should be removed and hidden away … if not destroyed.
    -This mural is blatant white supremacy and only exists because the majority of South Dakota citizens are of that same putrid mindset.
    -No Indian child should be exposed to this “boot on the neck” of the predominate culture of South Dakota.
    -Governor Rchard F. Kneip found the Blashfield mural in the Gov’s office objectionable and had it veiled in 1971, so only a drapery would be visible by visitors to the Governor’s Reception area.
    -At the same time, he commissioned a mural by Paul War Cloud Grant titled “Unity through the Great Spirit.”
    -Governor Kneip “found the mural personally distasteful, and that it did not represent the true attitudes of most South Dakota residents who prefer to work in cooperation with the Indian people.”
    -“There WERE such feelings, most notably in the “frontier” days of South Dakota, and in fact, these few ignorant people are responsible for the situation that exists between Indian and white communities today.” – Tim Peterson 1977

  7. Anne 2021-09-06

    I am surprised that the sculptors would want their names attached to such an atrocious piece of kitsch. But theIr admissions of supporting Trump are stunning. To openly support Trump is to openly state opposition to American democracy–liberty, equality, and justice for all. And to deny honesty, truthfulness, and competence as rightful expectations in our leaders. The divide is not between left and right ways of politics. Since Trump, it is a stark choice between honest democracy and sleazy autocracy. The sculptors made their choice.

  8. Detroit Lewis 2021-09-07

    Anne, have you seen their work in the SF Sculpture Walk? It’s all kitsch. In fact I told Lee to his face that all his art is good for is selling pizza and beer in DTSF. He blew a gasket, so it doesn’t surprise me he was behind this and is a Trump supporter. Sellout.

  9. Eric Davis 2021-09-07

    All politics aside, it should be noted that there existed a fascinating and complex human interest story buried in a year-old piece of news, and Tom Lawrence spotted it, worked it for a year, and produced a really excellent piece of journalism. The connection to Janklow, the deep-dive into the artists, and even a cameo by Gerard Baker–all woven together brilliantly. Well done. Journalism lives.

  10. Ryan 2021-09-08

    The quote above says these stupid sculptures were 27″x12″x8.5″ but the original article Cory links to from 2020 says noem gave trump a 4 foot mt. rushmore.

    classic republicans – get somebody else to do a thing, take credit for that thing, and then be misleading about the thing. fantastic.

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