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With the 2004 Republican National Convention rolling into Madison Square Garden, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, the largely Democratic art world in New York is mobilizing for an esthetic response. Photographer Larry Finks satire of the Bush administration, "The Forbidden Pictures, A Political Tableau" at powerHouse Gallery in SoHo, opened six weeks ago [see "Weekend Update," July 20, 2004]. Herewith, a selection of forthcoming exhibitions, at venues ranging from major museums to artists bars:

* Freedom of Expression National Monument, Aug. 19-Nov. 13, in Foley Square in downtown Manhattan. An oversized red megaphone, originally designed 1984 as a platform for public expression by Laurie Hawkinson, Erika Rothenberg and John Malpede, is sited in a plaza by the Federal and state courthouses. The installation is sponsored by Creative Time and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

* Propaganda Hospitality Suite, Aug. 21-Sept. 4, at Luxe Gallery, 24 W. 57th Street. "Pre-convention revelry" featuring appearances by Axis of Eve, Billionaires for Bush, Armed Artists of America and more, in a show organized by the U.S. Department of Art & Technology, including staff artists Mark Amerika, Lynn Hershman, Gregory T. Kuhn and others. For more info, see

* AmBush! Aug. 24-Sept. 18, at Van Brunt Gallery, 819 Washington Street. "The message of this exhibition is simple: Bush must go!" Works by Enrique Chagoya, Critical Art Ensemble, R. Crumb, Joan Fontcuberta, Leon Golub, David Humphrey, Jon Kessler, Norm Magnusson, Ben Neill, Guy Richards Smit and many others.

* WAR! Protest in America, 1965-2004, Aug. 26-Oct. 24, 2004, at the Whitney Museum of American Art. A program of films about the Vietnam War, including works by Emile de Antonio, Stan Brakhage, Jean-Luc Godard, D.A. Pennebaker, Carolee Schneemann and Paul Sharits, plus two contemporary films about protest against the current U.S. war in Iraq. The film series is organized by curator Chrissie Iles and artist Sam Durant; for tickets call 1-800-Whitney. Also on view is "Memorials of War," an exhibition of pworks from the collection from the 1960s to the present.

* Watch What We Say, Aug. 26-Sept. 2, at Schroeder Romero, 173A N. 3rd Street, Brooklyn. "Pressing political issues of the moment in poetic, subversive, emotional and clear-eyed terms," via works by Robbie Conal, Emily Jacir, Joy Garnett, Ann Messner, William Pope.L, Krzysztof Wodiczko and 15 other artists, in a show organized by Marc Lepson.

* A More Perfect Union, Aug. 29-Sept. 12, at Max Fish, 178 Ludlow Street. Protest posters by Cecily Brown, Gary Panter, Fred Tomaselli, Futura and many others covering the walls of the popular Lower East Side art bar, in a show organized by Downtown for Democracy. Originals are to be sold for $200 (or less); five works are to be made into large-edition silkscreens and distributed. For more details,

The New York Times has uncovered an apparent arts scam in the Bronx. According to the story, written by David Gonzalez and Jonathan P. Hicks, in 2001 Bronx Democratic congressman José E. Serrano established an organization called Casa Cultural Puertorriqueña, designed to be a kind of Smithsonian Institution of Puerto Rican culture, and steered over $1.1 million in federal funds to the organization -- and has so far gotten little more than a website and a storefront office in return.

Political patronage seems to be involved as well: The groups executive director, Noemi Santana, who was paid more than $82,000 in salary in 2002, is the fiance of a Santana political crony, as is a consultant, David Rosado, who received more than $36,000. Whats more, according to the groups 2002 tax return, $350,000 in Casa Cultural funds was siphoned off to a "theater project" that Santana admitted was little more than "an idea in a file." In his response to the New York Times reporters, Congressman Serrano distanced himself from the arts project, but the situation remains unclear. Say tuned.

The new visa strictures imposed by the Bush administration on cultural exchange between Cuba and the U.S. has resulted in the cancellation of an exhibition of conceptual art from Cuba planned for 2005 at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Titled "Object, Process and Circumstance," the show was being organized with two curators in Cuba and included works by Raul Cordero, Jose Manuel Fors, Jose Emilio Fuentes, Luis Gomez Armenteros, Ernesto Leal, Yunior Marino, Manuel Pina, Eduardo Ponjuan and Michel Rives. Only one artist from Cuba has gotten a visa to visit the U.S. in the last six months, said Lyndel King, director of the Weisman museum and U.S. curator of the show, and she had hoped to bring all nine artists to Minneapolis before the U.S. Department of State put the kibosh on the visas.

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice is mounting the first major European exhibition of works by Abstract Expressionist William Baziotes (1912-63) this fall, Sept. 5, 2004-Jan. 9, 2005. Organized in collaboration with the artists estate and his widow Ethel Baziotes, the show features 45 paintings and 20 watercolor drawings selected by Michael Preble, author of the forthcoming catalogue raisonn of the artists work. The show in Venice comes almost 60 years to the day after Baziotes first solo show at Peggy Guggenheims Art of this Century gallery in New York. On the occasion of the new exhibition, Mrs. Baziotes has donated a 1944 work to the Guggenheim titled The Parachutists.

The National Academy of Design is changing its name -- three times. The overall institution, which was founded in 1825 and is located at 1083 Fifth Avenue up the block from the Guggenheim Museum, is now the National Academy. The museum is now to be referred to as the National Academy Museum and the art school is now known as the National Academy School of Fine Arts. According to museum director Annette Blaugrund, the word "design" originally meant "to draw" but now refers to the decorative arts -- which are outside the institutions focus. The 400 artist-members of the National Academy are still called National Academicians.

First, the hip Brooklyn gallery Bellwether moved to 10th Avenue in Manhattans Chelsea art district. Now, Roebling Hall, the hip Brooklyn gallery directed by Christian Viveros-Faune and Joel Beck, is expanding to Chelsea as well, opening in a soaring ground-floor space at 606 West 26th Street with "Primetime," a massive installation of 34 video monitors by Bjørn Melhus, on Sept. 6, 2004. The new location, a converted warehouse space with 22-foot-tall ceilings, complements Roebling Halls two other spaces -- one in SoHo upstairs from the landmark SoHo bar Fanellis (and currently featuring works by Moises Saman, to Sept. 25) and the original facility at 390 Wythe Avenue in Brooklyn (opening on Sept. 24 with a show by Paul Campbell).

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