According to online interviews Rochester resident Sean Madden has conducted over the past two years, he is as accomplished at working with troubled children as he is as an artist.
A surrealist whose work is sure to offend mainstream sensibilities, his pen-and-ink creations have been featured in books, on screen, in galleries and sought after by collectors.
It's also his artwork that may have cost him his job with the Byron-Bergen Central School District where he was employed as a counselor.
Contacted today, Superintendent Casey Kosiorek said he couldn't discuss a "confidential matter."
Madden also said he is not very interested in talking about the situation at this stage. He said it's very early in the process and he hasn't decided yet what, if any, message he wants to share with the media.
He confirmed he has spoken with attorneys from his teacher's union and the ACLU and agreed that the case is an interesting First Amendment matter.
All of the paintings and his promotion of his art were done away from the school and not during work hours, Madden confirmed.
Beyond that, he didn't want to say more until conferring further with lawyers.
In interviews with publications in Rochester and Buffalo, Madden has said he's a husband and father who was born in Buffalo, raised there in the 1970s, attended SUNY Brockport, and eventually obtained a master's degree in counselor education.
"I worked my way up the ladder in society," Madden told Rochester at Home, "from mopping floors, to serving in restaurants, to becoming a respected counselor. I’ve spent years working with the most violent, disturbed families and kids in the system.
"I’ve been in high demand throughout my career, as I’ve worked with the toughest cases. For many years, my specialty was working with emotionally disturbed kids in institutions. I’ve worked in classrooms that many people were too afraid to work in — the kids were too aggressive."
Without cooperation of the school district, it's unclear how long Madden was employed by Byron-Bergen, but according to See Through New York, his tenure goes back to at least 2008 and in 2011 he earned $59,000.
It's unknown to what degree the school district was aware of Madden's work prior to hiring him. The district has been through at least one change in superintendents since he started working there.
Unless the district issues a statement, we also don't know if there other issues, from the district's perspective, involved in the apparent dismissal of Madden.
Madden's personal Web site contains samples of his artwork, which features iconic subjects in surreal circumstances and in themes some may find distasteful.
The fact that not everybody will find his art appealing seems to be fine by Madden. He told Buffalo Rising that he isn't after the same kind of success as a guy who paints puppies.
"For a guy like me -- who does blasphemous, sexually explicit, psycho-representational work -- it's a much bigger deal," Madden said. "I'm not worried about the general public liking my work.
"After all, they haven't voted for a female president yet, so who cares what they think? The general public is stupid. However, the folks who understand my work -- weirdo intelligentsia -- them I care about."