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Likeness Aside, Montana Leader's No Fan of Nude

September 08, 2003|From Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. — A new mural depicting the city's history is provoking an unintended reaction among some viewers who notice a tall woman with short hair and glasses, dancing naked:

Isn't that ... the governor?

No, it's not, but the buzz over the resemblance of the bordello dancer to Gov. Judy Martz was enough to compel her to take a field trip with top aides to the building near downtown Helena where the mural is displayed.

Martz, a Republican and Montana's first female governor, called it a "stretch of the imagination" to say the woman, kicking up her heels with two other nude dancers, looks like her.

Seeing the mural for the first time, she said, "I'm a very modest person; no one would ever see me like that. My husband doesn't ever see me like that."

"It's definitely not her," Kristine Veith, the Seattle artist who created the work, said in an interview.

The mural, called "The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Helena," depicts prominent figures in Helena's history, including Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their guide, Sacagewea.

Martz took issue with the artist's decision to depict the saloon dancers naked, saying she was unaware of nude dancing being a part of Helena's history. "There are no naked men up there. It's just another prejudice against women," Martz said.

Veith said the nude women reflect the brothels that were once an important part of Helena society.

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