No Stars of David allowed in an art exhibit promoting peace and love at the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau in Washington, DC. From the Washington City Paper, with thanks to Seafarious. (This is “Star Search,” the second item on the page.)
It was just supposed to be about peace, love, and understanding, say the artist and the curator. But that was before somebody spotted the Star of David.
Three stars, actually, painted into three works by painter Jorge Perez-Rubio that were part of his recent “People and Places of Egypt” exhibition at the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau on New Hampshire Avenue NW. Both Perez-Rubio and the show’s curator, Aaron Pomerantz, say that Ala El Din Sarhan, a cultural attachÃ© with the bureau, asked them repeatedly to take down the three paintings as the show was installed on Feb. 23.
“And as the show was being hung, [Sarhan] looked at [all the other paintings] very thoroughly,” says Pomerantz, a Chevy Chase consultant who says he’d showed Sarhan the exhibition catalog months before. “He was being proactive in discovering any Stars of David.”
The Miami-based Perez-Rubio, who lived in Cairo for two years, has painted more than 20 works in what he calls his “New Jerusalem” series–a kind of Where’s Waldo? of monotheism in which a cross, a crescent, and a Star of David are tucked into topsy-turvy, four-horizoned cityscapes. “In every great city–Cairo, New York, Miami–you make room for everybody,” he says. “[The concept] makes some people uncomfortable, and that’s what I felt that evening.”
Sarhan denies asking for the paintings to come down. And he now says that he’s even come to appreciate Perez-Rubio’s project. “The way he explained [the works],” says Sarhan, “he’s able to portray himself better than the curator. I liked the idea very much. Tolerance. If you rotate it 180 degrees, you can still get the same idea: We’re all living under the same sun.”
But the day before the show closed on March 9, the exhibition languished unmarked, unlit, and unguarded. A long table and a podium obscured access to a whole wall of works.
“Dr. Sarhan didn’t honor the art,” says Pomerantz, who adds that the attachÃ© pestered him to remove the works as quickly as possible after the opening. “I would love to do another show at the Egyptian Embassy,” he adds. “Just not with Dr. Sarhan.”