Correction to This Article
The Reliable Source column in the July 27 Style section incorrectly said that an interview with former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown appears in Playboy's August issue. It is in the September issue.

When Art Parties Go Wrong: A Tale of Bad Apples

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, July 27, 2006

The work by artist Axelle Rioult was a serious meditation on aging -- until a group of party guests stumbled across it.

"Non sans émoi (As I Lay Myself . . . )" opened two weeks ago at Flashpoint , the slick downtown arts center for contemporary and performance art. Rioult came from France to install a long piece of embroidered gauze running the length of the gallery -- dipped in a vat of milk, hung to the ceiling -- with scores of apples strewn over it to portray the stages of decay (milk curdling, apples rotting and wrinkling.) "She spent hours on each fold and each curve of the fabric," said gallery manager Rebecca Lowery.

The art was the backdrop for a private party on July 15, where a few dozen guests walked through the installation to reach dinner in the theater space -- and lurched out hours later, tearing and rearranging the gauze in the process, despite the presence of gallery staff at the event.

Lowery speculated the party cleanup crew misinterpreted the art as . . . well, not art. But writer Kriston Capps, who described the debacle on his Grammar Police art blog, guesses it was drunken dinner guests: "I think people just were partying and stumbled into it, tried to fix what they had done, and made it worse." The exhibition, scheduled to run until Aug. 19, was closed due to "irreparable damage" after consulting with curator Xavier Courouble and a "devastated" Rioult in France.

No one at the gallery is ratting out the host of the party, or discussing the likelihood of future rentals in the space. "As an organization, we put the artist's work first," said Lowery. No word on the fate of the apples, but the gallery will mount a short text commemorating the loss.

Michael Brown Reveals All in a Playboy Interview

Brownie, you give a heckuva interview! Former FEMA chief Michael Brown unloads about his post-Katrina downfall in the August issue of Playboy -- calling himself a "scapegoat," warning that the nation is even "less-prepared" for this year's hurricane season, and sharing some PG-13 opinions of former colleagues.

· On Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), accusing him in a hearing of not comprehending the devastation: "For that little twerp to claim I didn't understand death and suffering -- he can just bite me, for all I care."

· On President Bush saying the levee breaches were unexpected: "He doesn't have an incredible command of the English language."

· On DHS boss Michael Chertoff ordering him out of the field: "I am so mad at myself for not saying 'screw you.' "

· On Bush calling him "Brownie": "It's typical of the president. He's a cheerleader . . . How many people in the world do you think have ever called me Brownie? . . . When he used that nickname, a lot of people in the media went, Is he an insider?"

· On his much-mocked prior job with the International Arabian Horse Association: "Dealing with horses' asses taught me how to deal with the federal government."

So Wouldn't He Rather Sing With the Dixie Chicks?

It's about time Kelly Clarkson recorded a duet! Joining her at the mike: Maryland's own Steny Hoyer .

Or so say the folks at the Grammys, who will bring the American Idol to Capitol Hill in September for a special "recording session" to show lawmakers the complexity of cutting a record. Backup singing will come courtesy of recording-industry caucus co-chairs Mary Bono and Hoyer. "It will be available for download -- legally," said Daryl Friedman of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

This was news to the congressman's rep, who could say for sure only that the Democrat will attend. "Congressman Hoyer is a big music fan, but I don't know that he has any plans to record," said Tim Schlittner . Well, if he were going to sing, what might he sing? "I know he's a big country fan. Maybe a country song called 'Takin' Back the House.' "

Hey, Isn't That . . . ?

Giants slugger Barry Bonds chowing down on a Kelly's Cajun Grill chicken lunch with two other men and a woman at the Pentagon City food court Tuesday afternoon before his 0 for 4 showing against the victorious Nats. Cute SF pitcher Noah Lowry was also spotted, gladly signing autographs from the Starbucks line. Pentagon City -- the new Cafe Milano? Nah, probably has more to do with the Ritz-Carlton next door . . .

Love, Etc.

Divorcing : Prince is about to be "The Artist Formerly Known as Husband." The funky musician, 48, and Manuela Testolini Nelson , 29, are calling it quits after five years of marriage, reports People magazine. No details; the court documents, filed in May, are sealed.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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