by John Hawkins | April 13, 2005 4:29 am
Want to know why so many conservatives would be thrilled if the National Endowment of the Arts were disbanded? Because this is what passes for “art” these days:
“Organizers of a politically charged art exhibit at Columbia College’s Glass Curtain Gallery thought their show might draw controversy.
But they didn’t expect two U.S. Secret Service agents would be among the show’s first visitors.
The agents turned up Thursday evening, just before the public opening of “Axis of Evil, the Secret History of Sin,” and took pictures of some of the art pieces — including “Patriot Act,” showing President Bush on a mock 37-cent stamp with a revolver pointed at his head.
The agents asked what the artists meant by their work and wanted museum director CarolAnn Brown to turn over the names and phone numbers of all the artists. They wanted to hear from the exhibit’s curator, Michael Hernandez deLuna, within 24 hours, she said.
“They just want to make sure it isn’t something more than a statement,” Brown said.
This isn’t the first time Hernandez has had a brush with the feds over a fake stamp. In 2001, authorities said they suspected he was behind a bogus stamp that bore a black skull and crossbones and the word “Anthrax.” It was sent through the mail during the height of the anthrax scare.
The Columbia exhibit features 47 artists from 11 countries and depicts powerful religious and political leaders worldwide on mock postage stamps. One, called “Citizen John Ashcroft,” shows Ashcroft’s face fashioned from images of naked bodies at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Another piece — “I saw it in a movie starring Steven Segal” — shows a series of images of an airplane nearing, then crashing into the Sears Tower, and ends with the Chicago skyline without the skyscraper.”
Yeah, what geniuses these “artists” are. I can just hear them now:
“Oh, here’s one with a gun at Bush’s head? The meaning? I want Bush to die, like duh! Oooh, take a look at this avant-garde piece. It’s like imagining how cool it would be if terrorists crashed a jet into the Sears Tower. Would that be awesome or what?”
I know, that dialogue is too straight forward. Usually, when someone is asked to explain this sort of garbage, they throw on their art poseur hat and start sounding like they learned how to converse with other human beings by watching “The Matrix Revolutions.”
Setting that aside, this particular art exhibit, irritating though it may be, isn’t primarily what I wanted to talk about since it appears to be privately funded. If someone wants to waste part of his life staring at this sort of pretentious crap instead of doing something more meaningful like — well, just about everything else — so be it.
But why, in 2005, do we still have such a thing as government funded art? What would we be risking by getting rid of it? Sure, if we cut out government funding for the arts, some future artist might have to get a real job instead of spending a few months making a life sized statue of Laura Bush out of monkey dung, but never before has art and culture been as readily available as it is to people in 21st Century America. You want some art in your life? Go to eBay and buy some on the cheap. Want to “get some culture?” Go to Blockbuster and rent “Cats” or “Oklahoma”.
If that’s not enough for you, if you’re really desperate to see a painting of Condi Rice made entirely out of the boogers of terrorists detained at Gitmo, then get some of your rich liberal friends to divert some of the money they’re spending on MoveOn to local artists or hold your next “Peace March for Mumia” at a local art gallery. They’d probably appreciate the business…and the rest of us would appreciate one less pointless use of our tax dollars.
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