The Cold War may be over, but there will always be reminders. Last week, the infamous Berlin Wall's Checkpoint Charlie was hauled off to a museum. And today and tomorrow, there is "Before the Thaw: Visual Images of Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism in Soviet Posters, 1982-1987," an exhibition of cartoonish images of violent, hawkish American and Israeli governments, in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building.
The posters, published by the Soviet government and sold at subsidized prices in bookstores, were collected by prominent Leningrad refusenik Evgeny Lein. Lein originally attempted to have one taken out of the Soviet Union by a tourist, but it was confiscated. So in 1988 he had the entire collection smuggled out of the country. Lein and his wife, Irina, were granted permission to emigrate in 1989.
Marian Sofaer, wife of State Department legal adviser Abraham Sofaer, organized an exhibit of the propaganda in 1989 at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. She later contacted her uncle, Rep. James Scheuer (D-N.Y.), to have the collection hung in the Cannon House Office Building rotunda.
But Architect of the Capitol George M. White rejected the request on the grounds that "exhibits depicting a subject of contemporary political controversy or of a sensational or gruesome nature" are not allowed in the Capitol or the office buildings.
Scheuer protested that the posters no longer represent contemporary political controversy and, with the aid of House Speaker Tom Foley, persuaded White to allow the exhibition to be shown in the Rayburn building.
Baltimore Museum Director to Head AAMD
Baltimore Museum of Art Director Arnold Lehman was recently elected to a one-year term as president of the Association of Art Museum Directors. The AAMD, 150 museum directors from North America, serves as a forum for exchange of information and is a way for the directors to voice united opinions on various controversial issues, such as the upcoming debate over possible funding restrictions for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the trial of AAMD member Dennis Barrie, director of Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center, who was arrested for exhibiting the Robert Mapplethorpe photography retrospective. Lehman, as president, will act as official AAMD spokesman.
"The association has taken a very strong stand in support for the NEA, in regard to the significance of the NEA in what it has accomplished in the last 25 years -- the investments in a more creative America and the bringing together of diverse arts in America," said Lehman. "We are very concerned about censorship and freedom of expression, but make a clear statement that the arts are not a thrill, but an investment in our lives."
Lehman has been with the Baltimore museum for nearly 11 years. Prior to that, he served six years as the director of the Metropolitan Museum and Art Centers in Miami and two years as executive director of the Parks Council of New York City.
"It's going to be a hard year for everyone in this country to sort out the priorities and how we are going to go forward after leading in creativity for so many years," he said. "We certainly don't want to see a backslide."
Washington Arts Directors
Douglas Wheeler, managing director of the Washington Performing Arts Society, and Alan Fern, director of the National Portrait Gallery, were presented the prestigious rank of chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters on Wednesday night at the French ambassador's residence.
The chevalier is the highest of three ranks in the order, established by the president of France in 1957 to recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves in the arts and who promote artistic creativity around the world.
Past recipients include Charles Wadsworth, artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; John Elderfield, drawings director at the Museum of Modern Art; David White, Dance Theatre Workshop executive director; and Nina Hyde, the late Washington Post fashion editor.