From Da Vinci to Toilet Paper: Two Art Critics on Oils of Family Court Judge Thomas O’Neill and Kith Chris Ambrose

High Class: Frank Report has been criticized as a tabloid-style publication for low brows and other unseemly people. So we are adding a bit of class by bringing two art critics noted for their exquisite appreciation of fine art to discuss paintings by artist John Stercus Cunis of Chris Ambrose and his kith CT Superior Court Judge Thomas O’Neill.

Faction: Any allusions to real, hypothetical, or imputed persons, entities, events, or circumstances—be they corporeal, incorporeal, extant, or non-extant, historical, factual, or counterfactual within, adjacent to, or separate from the recognized spectrum of reality—are coincidental.

Works by Artist John Stercus Cunis

Artist Stercus Cunis

By Two Art Critics

“The Judgment of Ambrose” by artist John Stercus Cunis

By Elspeth de la Fleur, art critic

Rendered in haunting chiaroscuro, “The Judgment of Ambrose” by Stercus Cunis uses shadow and light to create tension that elevates the subject matter to a spiritual level. The paper rolls, so vividly detailed they seem to take on the weight of religious relics. Ambrose’s face, caught between anxiety and epiphany, captures the existential torment that decision-making can evoke. The triangulation of forms—the balance of color—imbues the piece with an air of splendor, thereby magnifying the challenge of Ambrose to steal – whether a TV script, his children’s happiness, or a roll of toilet paper – in the scene.

By Winston Velvet, art critic

The look on Ambrose’s face is nothing short of rectal revelation. With a streak of enlightenment in his eyes, he looks at the rolls of toilet paper like they were the Holy Grail of hygiene products. It’s as if Ambrose is wrestling with the Sistine Chapel ceiling of toiletries, trying to touch the hand of God, but worried about which brand will leave less lint. But to me, those paper rolls could cause a rash just by looking at them.

The painting is kind of like the Da Vinci Code. But instead of decoding religious symbolism, I found myself deciphering the optimal ply-count for maximum comfort.

 “Judge Thomas O’Neill” by John Stercus Cunis

By Elspeth de la Fleur

In “Judge Thomas O’Neill,” Stercus Cunis dives deep into the complex world of authority figures who betray public trust. He portrays Judge O’Neill in a grandiose, almost Baroque style.  Yet, the realistic finesse of O’Neill’s visage, captured in varied shades and angles, eerily evokes the visage of an infamous totalitarian leader, suggesting the dangers of unchecked authority.

By Winston Velvet

This painting dumps one right in the face of a Family Court Judge. One look and I was saying, “Is that Hitler or did someone just eat too much sauerkraut?” O’Neill’s face isn’t just stern—it’s constipated with corruption.

Like “Here comes the judge,” and there goes my lunch. Yeah, it’s like this judge will give you a ruling, but you might want to check your toilet paper for legal briefs afterward.

You can’t be sure if this judge is going to sentence you or just fart in your direction. Overall, it makes me feel like a court hearing where you’re pleading for a lesser movement.

“The Father Who Steals,” by Stercus Cunis

By Elspeth de la Fleur

John Stercus Cunis’s “The Father Who Steals,” tackles the dark subject of abuse of power within the domestic sphere. The father is depicted in stark contrast to the idealized notion of patriarchal warmth and wisdom. He is shown with hands dripping in metaphorical inky darkness, washing them in a basin that seems to collect not water, but the despair and grief of his children who he’s supposed to love and protect.

What makes this piece so compelling is its brutally honest portrayal of the father’s indifferent gaze, captured at the moment he cleans his hands of the turmoil he inflicted on his children. The basin into which he washes his hands appears more like a chalice, suggesting a perverse ritualistic cleansing. Stercus Cunis makes us look straight into the eyes of malevolence, to confront it without the comfort of ambiguity.

By Winston Velvet

This painting plunged me deep into the septic tank of a father without a conscience. Ambrose’s face looks like a clogged toilet after a chili cook-off. His washing his hands in a basin screams ‘flush me away.’ His eyes basically dare you to toss in an extra courtesy flush.

When it comes to drama, the artist lays it on thicker than triple-ply toilet paper. He uses light and shadow to try to get the viewer to see this father as his children do — like a public restroom you’re forced to use—you enter hesitantly, you’re horrified while you’re there, and you can’t wait to escape.

“The Bidet of Truth,” by John Stercus Cunis

By Elspeth de la Fleur

In his provocative painting, “The Bidet of Truth,” Stercus Cunis offers viewers an unsettling study of the dual nature of mankind. The central object, the bidet, is a radiant marvel, illuminated with such intensity that it becomes almost an object of reverence. Its shining brilliance could convince one of its divine origin—were it not for the ominous dark water pooled at the bottom, which serves as a hint that the darker instincts of a man named Ambrose, who forces his children to live in his lonely house of horrors, lurk behind the facade. While the bidet shines brilliantly, it is not enough to purify the dark waters of the man it holds. “The Bidet of Truth” is a compelling work that challenges, provokes, and enlightens, as only great art can.

By Winston Velvet

Hey, like, have you ever been judged by your toilet? Or is this bidet shinier than my future? I mean, this thing could have lit up like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. You half expect it to start giving weather forecasts or telling you your fortune.

“Ah yes, let’s consult the Bidet of Truth: Will I find true love?” “No, but you’ll find true cleanliness!”

But this Ambrose guy — no bidet is that strong. He would need a fire hose to clean him off.

“The Man Who Left a Stench” by John Stercus Cunis

By Elspeth de la Fleur

Stercus Cunis’s evocative work, “The Man Who Left a Stench,” delves into the complex tapestry of human behavior and duplicity, encapsulating the essence of a man who appears innocently clutching a small dog in his arms. However, the bones beneath the dog reveal a disquieting symbol of the darkness that lurks below the man’s affable exterior.

The painting employs textures to enhance its emotional depth – the soft fur of the dog and the hard, unforgiving bones—amplify the tension between facade and reality.  Shadows and light are used to heightened effect, emphasizing the man’s face and hands, the two parts of him that interact most directly with the world, and therefore, the two parts most prone to deceit.

“The Man Who Left Behind a Stench” is a compelling work that lingers, much like the metaphorical scent the model evokes in how he traumatized his children.

By Winston Velvet

Every time I look at Ambrose, I can’t help but wonder: did he forget to flush?  If this guy really has a smell, I really don’t want to sniff out the truth.

Overall, the painting creates the tension you feel when you’re in a public restroom and you’re not sure if you should sit or hover.

I’ll tell you my takeaway. The guy just came from a big meal, clutching a dog in what I can only guess is a desperate attempt to blame any “natural occurrences” on the innocent pooch.

I’m just glad art isn’t scratch ‘n’ sniff.


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Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

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Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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