See the Naked Bush masterpiece here


To the troubled City Museum of Washington, an exhibition by local artists seemed just the hip solution to attract a new, desperately needed audience. But instead "Funky Furniture," a show of painted living room pieces, has been evicted by the museum because some of the artists' themes were considered unsuitable.

One artist decorated a church pew with pictures and quotes to allege that President Ronald Reagan was indifferent to the AIDS crisis. Another took an end table and plastered it with drug paraphernalia and a quote from former mayor Marion Barry, who was jailed for drug possession. Another created a coffee-table-size dictionary with Washington entries, such as "A Is for Anthrax" and "G Is for Gentrification," illustrated by a drawing of a white male urinating on African American residents.

And what is a living room without a prominent painting? Kayti Didriksen, a local artist, decided to paint President Bush and Vice President Cheney in the well-known style of Manet's "Olympia." Bush is nude and reclining on a chaise longue, and Cheney, in a suit and tie, is holding a velvet pillow with a crown topped by an oil rig.

The City Museum's executive committee decided yesterday that the museum was "not an appropriate venue for this event."

The museum is primarily a facility for local and regional history and is operated by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. It has severely overestimated its potential audience and revenue: From its opening in May 2003 through August, it had 36,536 paying patrons, compared with the 100,000 to 450,000 that had been projected.

"This is not what we had bargained for. We thought we were getting functional furniture," said Leslie Shapiro, co-chairman of the museum board. Shapiro and Sean Duffey, another board member, said yesterday that the political content was not an overriding factor in the decision not to go ahead.

"I don't think I was judging it on that basis," Shapiro said. "What we are not is an art gallery. There are probably places this should go." She said she was disappointed the arrangement didn't work out.

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