Silly?!? *YOU* Decide!

John A. Quayle blueoval at SGI.NET
Mon Jul 14 23:45:32 MDT 2003

'Anti-Bush' artwork
decorates town hall
Flag with swastika among works critical of president on display

Posted: July 13, 2003
7:18 p.m. Eastern

© 2003

Hunter Levinsohn displays controversial art (courtesy: Durham Herald Sun)

A town-hall art exhibit featuring an American flag with a swastika and a 
bomb appearing to come out of President Bush's head is sparking heated 
debate in <>Carrboro, N.C.

According to local news reports, the politically themed display has 
prompted the removal of one item from a high-profile location, and remarks 
from municipal workers and visitors to the local center of government who 
feel the artwork is anti-American.

"I've heard a lot of town employees talk about the show, and I haven't 
heard a single one say anything positive about it," one town employee told 
the Chapel Hill News. "People are upset. I don't care for the show, either. 
We have to be here all day with it, and we have to deal with the people who 
come in to complain about it. What bothers me is that people assume that 
because it's in town hall it represents all of us. It definitely does not."

The Durham Herald Sun quoted another worker upset about the display: "It 
seems like the art is always of controversy and leaning toward the same 
thing those not in support of our country."

The works which are critical of the Bush administration are the creations 
of local artist Hunter Levinsohn and are slated to be on display by the 
Carrboro Art Committee through Sept. 15.

"The art committee thinks it's more liberated and says it stands for peace 
and love," the employee told the Chapel Hill News. "But that piece with 
President Bush and cabinet members with the bombs and everything, that 
doesn't represent peace and love. Art in a workplace should be pleasant and 
attractive, not this kind of thing."

The <>"Bush Bomb Bag" shows 
an image of the president with a host of toy warplanes and bombs.

Another work called <>"Wolf in 
Sheep's Clothing" features the face of Bush peering out of a wall hanging 
in the shape of a sheep's face.

Tom Ridge as paper doll in security purse (courtesy:

"Security Alert Purse With Tom Ridge Paper Doll & 6 Outfits" includes an 
outfit for each color in the terror-alert system along with an outfit made 
of plastic and duct tape.

The piece with a swastika on Old Glory, titled "Trying to Make Black and 
White Out of the Red, White and Blue," was actually created in 1990 during 
the term of George H.W. Bush when a constitutional amendment against 
burning or damaging the U.S. flag was proposed.

"The flag is a symbol of American freedom and justice," Levinsohn, who is 
Jewish wrote in a statement responding to the controversy. "The flag 
amendment seemed to me to be an assault on our First Amendment right to 
freedom of speech. It seemed to violate the very freedom the flag 
symbolizes. The piece was intended as a protest against the flag amendment.

"The swastika has to do with trying to get across the idea I was trying to 
get across on that issue. It has nothing to do with my feelings about the 
flag or the country."

Levinsohn considers herself patriotic and even wore red, white and blue 
down to her shoes last week. On her 
<>website, she gives a hint as to 
why so much of her work is political in nature.

"I've often thought that one of my prime responsibilities as an artist is 
to point out when the emperor is wearing no clothes," Levinsohn says.

Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson was originally out of town when the exhibit was 
first displayed, and when complaints started flowing in about the flag with 
the swastika hanging on the boardroom wall, he approved its removal but 
agreed to hang it in his own office.

"I think the show is the best we've ever had in town hall," Nelson told the 
Chapel Hill News. "In the context of what the artist was doing, this is a 
very strong piece of art. I like it. My initial reaction is to leave it in 
my office. I'm fine with it being hung wherever."

Not every town employee shares the mayor's enthusiasm.

Annette Rogers, a black employee in the payroll department, said she found 
the image of the swastika offensive, even after talking with Levinsohn 
about freedom of speech.

"I looked at it and thought Nazis and skin heads and prejudice," Rogers 
told the Herald Sun.

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