Joan Mondale yesterday presented yet another show of contemporary art - the third that she's installed in her Victorian home.
She gave a luncheon, she explained, "to welcome my new friends" - the 75 works of art, paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints and pots that fill the walls and bookcases of the Vice President's House.
The artists represented include Robert Motherwell. Frank Stella, Joan Mitchell, Alice Aycock, Richard Diebenkorn, Marisol, Arshile Gorky, Morris Louis, Jim Dine, Vito Acconci, Ilya Bolotowskym Ralph Goings, Robert Indiana, Franz Kline, Larry Poons, AlHeld and Red Grooms.
The first such Mondale show was borrowed from Midwestern institutions; the second came from art museums in the Southwest. This year's show was loaned her by museums in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine and New York.
Outside on the lawn, a 10-foot stainless steel sculpture made by Kenneth Snelson has replaced another abstract work, of the same material and on a comparable scale, by the late David Smith.
"Fritz and I drove up the night they took it down. We felt that we had lost something very precious. The Secret Service - they had to look at it all the time; they called the Smith "The Goal Posts' - weren't so sad to see it go."
Few government officials repond to abstract art as openly as Joan Mondale. Her enthusiasm is not feigned. Unlike Nelson A. Rockefeller, who came to this city with a patron's reputation, yet was almost never seen in galleries or museums, she spends time with art and artists nearly every day. "It keeps me going," she said.
Rockefeller spent money on - and later sought to make money from - his art. Joan Mondale, in contrast, is an other kind of patron, a go-between for the art world and the government. She's earned the nickname "Joan of Art."
Once she led museum tours. She has not lost her skills. Yesterday she told the press that Arshile Gorky was "that last of the surrealists, the first of the abstract expressionists," that Joan Michell's house in France "was once lived in by Monet," and that Indiana's painting of the figure 2 "has, as you can see, a lot of political significance." Of the pictures on display, she said she found the huge blue Motherwell "the most enigmatic."
She noted that Stella's hard-edge color painting, Going's photo-realist pickup truck, Acconci's conceptualist work (which documents the artist's crossing of a street), and Aycock's drawing (titled "A Shanty Town Which has a 'Lunatic Charm that is Quite Engaging' or rather A Shanty Town Inhabited by Two Lunatics whose Charms are Quite Engaging") "share a sort of rationalism, an intellectual mood."
The works have been installed so that Morris Louis' colored stripes, Snelson's steel cylinders, and the double columns of the porch echo one another in a complex visual pun.
This year's exhibition was selected with the aid of Robert T. Buck, director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y. CAPTION: Picture, Joan Mondale at home with Ralph Goings' "Sherwin Williams Chevy," left, and Joan Mitchell's "Place for Puppies," background; by Harry Naltchayan-The Washington Post