“Murderers, Whores, Thieves and Liars,” by Forrest Prince photo: The Station BOOKS & THE CULTURE Art -YFacts BY DAVID THEIS Houston doesn’t have many public plazas, so we try to get maximum impact from the few we can boast of. So, not satisfied with being home to Halliburton Plaza, which is located at the ballpark formerly known as Enron Field, we recently celebrated the unveiling of the George Bush Monument, a downtown statue and plaza that pays homage to Bush the Elder. At the unveiling, a former local television anchor described 41 as “the most important Houstonian ever…with the possible exception of Sam Houston,” which no doubt came as news to the shades of Jesse Jones and Will Hogg. Not to mention Dominique de Menil and Barbara Jordan. And a local lawyer with so much time on his hands that he was able to dream up the Monument, chimed in with, “No president was so closely identified with his home city as President Bush.” Which was news to all of us who remember that, for decades, the Houstonian Hotel served as GHWB’s local address. The lawyer, a certain Charles Foster, praised the former president for agreeing to be depicted as standing on his own two feet at street level, like an ordinary mortal. “We didn’t put him on a pedestal or on horseback,” said Foster, “because we wanted the statue to be accessible. We wanted it to reflect the modesty of a great man.” Foster went on to predict that the Monument would become as popular a tourist attraction as NASA and the museums, and to venture a comparison between Abraham Lincoln and George H.W. Bush. There was no word as to whether or not Foster was led away in a strait jacket after making that announcement. Reading this, and imagining the applause of the gathered Bush Mafia the Bakers, the Mosbachersyou might be thinking that Houston should be leveled and its ruins strewn with salt. But before you mentally wipe us off the face of the earth, consider this: The George Bush Memorial is not the only local art site featuring an image of the former president. In its current exhibition, The Station, an art museum on the eastern fringes of downtown, has a picture of Bush Sr. on a playing card, in the angry yet humorous installation by local artist and holy man Forrest Prince, “Murderers, Whores, Thieves and Liars.” The piece features a table covered with playing cards, using the above titles rather than hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs. Each card contains a small photo of a powerful creep, and then jauntily details his or her wrongdoing. “Murderer” Colin Powell’s militaristic adventures are touched on, then Prince finishes his text with, “My what big talons you have, Mr. Dove.” Bush 41, bagman for Carlyle, appropriately appears as one of the “Whores.” But enough about Bush. The exhibition that Prince’s installation is part of, Red Fall, is just the latest poke in the eye for the powerful by Station director and creator James Harithas, who is himself an at least estranged member of the city’s cultural elite. He is married to Ann Harithas, a member of a prominent Victoria oil and ranching family. Back in the late 1970s James Harithas directed the Contemporary Arts Museum, which he put on the map with a series of provocative shows and art happenings. After he wore out his welcome there 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 12/17/04
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