When the conservatives in Congress gutted the National Endowment for the Arts, they predicted that art patrons from the private sector would come forward to fill the ensuing culture gap. Balderdash, said the art community. But proving them wrong are the conservatives at the American Enterprise Institute, which commissioned three historical portraits by Minnesota artist Mark Balma, to be unveiled next month at an AEI reception in the Cannon House Office Building.
Without actually viewing them, Chatterbox can't comment on whether or not these are great paintings, but we are prepared to judge these works by their titles:
A Shared Vision pairs Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Yes, they were statesmen, bringing compromise and tact to everything that they did. Also, they shared a vision, and are historical. Good job, AEI!
Resolution, we're not so sure about. This painting depicts the Gulf War All-Star starting five of George Bush, James Baker, Dick Cheney, Brent Scowcroft, and Colin Powell. Historical, yes, but haven't all of the subjects crawled under consulting/public-speaking/book-promoting rocks since the end of the Bush administration? It might not be very good, but it's very big--a whopping 144 square feet.
Making the strongest argument for the return of the National Endowment is The Four Statesmen, depicting everybody's favorite '70s political hacks: Gerald Ford, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, James Callaghan, and Helmut Schmidt.
Can we have Karen Finley and Piss Christ back, please?