Quote of the Week: "There's some accountant in press heaven who thinks Elaine Crispen weighs 728 pounds."
Elaine Crispen, Nancy Reagan's press secretary, on the media's now-traditional ritual of wining and dining White House sources during the president's periodic Santa Barbara outings.
Ulla Wachtmeister and James Rosenquist discovered they have more in common than being artists when they met last week at Secretary of State George Shultz's luncheon for Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson. In 1959, both did windows for Bonwit Teller in New York City, which at the time was giving young artists a chance to show their stuff.
Wachtmeister and Rosenquist happened into the Small World Department when Rosenquist, recounting his good old days as a starving artist, mentioned he had painted billboard-sized faces of Gay Nineties girls for Bonwit's Fifth Avenue windows in 1959.
"That's the year I did the windows!" said Wachtmeister.
"Artists did that because there were hardly any galleries to show our work in," Rosenquist explained to another guest. "Bonwit gave us $100 a window. I loved it."
Wachtmeister, who described her Bonwit Teller paintings as having a Swedish Easter theme, said she had so little room in which to paint at home that she used the bathroom as an atelier. At the time, her husband, now Swedish Ambassador Wilhelm Wachtmeister, was personal secretary to Dag Hammarskjold, then U.N. secretary general. "I actually sat in the bathtub while I worked," she said.
She still works at home, but now home is the commodious Swedish Embassy on Nebraska Avenue. Rosenquist's paintings no longer can be commissioned for $100 each. When the Robert C. Scull estate sold his painting "F-111" not long ago, it went for $2.09.
"I originally sold it for about 22 grand," he said.
The caller came right to the point, saying in accented English: "We want to get 'American Memory.' "
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is nothing if not obliging -- even to the Soviet news agency Tass -- in responding to requests for its 36-page booklet about how the humanities are being taught in American schools. Tass' request was one of the first of an estimated 12,000 NEH received for the booklet since Aug. 31, when it released its findings that elementary and secondary school pupils don't have a clue about the basics of history and literature.
The congressionally mandated study, sometimes called "The Cheney Study" after NEH Chairman Lynne V. Cheney, has intrigued not only the Soviets, who can be expected to propagandize the findings, but also the Japanese, Brazilians, British, Indians and a number of other foreign observers of American educational practices.
"It struck a nerve," says Marguerite H. Sullivan, NEH public affairs director, of the interest here and abroad.
Cheney's talent for stirring things up came to the fore a year ago when she withdrew the endowment's name as an underwriter of the nine-part TV series "The Africans." NEH had given $600,000 to WETA-TV, which coproduced it with the British Broadcasting Corp. Cheney, on the job barely three months, asked to see the series and came away feeling it was biased and that the producers had not produced what they said they would when they first agreed to the project in 1984.
This time Cheney is less than tickled to learn that 68 percent of U.S. teen-agers surveyed had no idea when the Civil War was, and that one out of three didn't know that Christopher Columbus discovered America before 1750.
Diplomatically, the week that was -- starting with the arrival of Swedish Prime Minister Carlsson -- still is, with the arrival Sunday night of Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.
And what a week it was. Cameo glimpses of State Department protocol officers showed them pulling VIP foreign visitors out of the hat like rabbits, and themselves hopping between Washington, Miami and Chicago providing we-aim-to-please service.
Chief of Protocol Selwa Roosevelt was at Dulles greeting Shevardnadze for the third time ("We're like old friends," she bubbled about the foreign minister and his wife Nanuli) while her deputy, Timothy Towell, was tipping his hat in farewell to Carlsson.
For the Carlssons, the weekend turned out to be a festival of Swedes, a number of them genuine cousins -- one residing at a senior citizens' home in Rockford, Ill. The American Film Institute here did its part by arranging a special screening of "Ninotchka," starring Greta Garbo, for Ingrid Carlsson.
In midweek, Towell took time off from Carlsson to fly to Miami to greet Pope John Paul II. The nation's television viewers saw His Holiness come down the ramp to a welcome from President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. Behind the pope was a veritable flurry of holy crimson as his entourage disgorged from the 747 en masse -- dashing the hopes of White House advance men, who prefer their presidential photo opportunities showing the stars, not the supporting cast.
Reagan's White House lunch for Shevardnadze today will be followed up tomorrow night by a dinner at the State Department given by Secretary of State Shultz and his wife Helena.
Meanwhile last week, almost while nobody was looking, Senegal's President Abdou Diouf was in town on a private visit. He still rated a meeting with Shultz and a luncheon given by Vice President George Bush.
She has been standing there for 124 years, but other than a handful of historians, few who looked skyward knew much about her. Now, with publication of a 100th Congress commemorative lithograph, "Looking at Freedom," the Statue of Freedom has been rediscovered.
Freedom is the 19 1/2-foot bronze statue that William Crawford, an American sculptor, created in his Rome studio. Abraham Lincoln was president when she took her lofty position atop the Capitol dome on Dec. 2, 1863, as 35 guns roared a national salute on the grounds below. Veneration, however, was fleeting: 24 years later she was permanently upstaged by the arrival in New York Harbor of another lady, the Statue of Liberty.
Freedom's rediscovery now is due in part to the 100th Congress' determination to find a symbol that would effectively communicate what Congress stands for. Rep. Lindy Boggs (D-La.) played no small part in marshaling interest on the House side, and on the Senate side was Senate wife Rosemary Trible, wife of Sen. Paul Trible (R-Va.).
Working with Raymond W. Smock, historian for the House Bicentennial Commission, and James R. Ketchum, curator of the Senate's Commission on Art and Antiquities, they enlisted the help of Peggy Stanton, a former congressional wife. Stanton, an author, artist and former journalist who was covering the Hill when she met her husband, then-representative J. William Stanton (R-Ohio), hit upon "Freedom" one day while taking pictures of people and scenes at the Capitol. There, looking up at the statue, was a group of schoolchildren. In Stanton's view, that scene said it all.
Stanton went home and painted "Looking at Freedom." Recently, AT&T underwrote the painting's reproduction as a lithograph. This week, it is going out to every member of Congress as a memento of tomorrow's Celebration of Citizenship Day on the West Lawn of the Capitol, as well as a reminder of the place Congress occupies in American democracy.
And that may not be the end of it, either. There is a move afoot to put the statue's plaster model, now languishing in a Smithsonian warehouse in Maryland, in the atrium of the Russell Senate Office Building.