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Secret Service checks out political art exhibit

April 14, 2005|From Times wire services

CHICAGO — The Secret Service sent agents to investigate a college art gallery exhibit of mock postage stamps, one depicting President Bush with a gun pointed at his head.

The exhibit, called "Axis of Evil: The Secret History of Sin," opened last week at Columbia College in Chicago. It features stamps designed by 47 artists addressing issues such as the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal, racism and the war in Iraq. None of the artists is tied to the college.

Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur would not say whether the inquiry had been completed or whom the Secret Service had interviewed, but he said no artwork had been confiscated.

"We need to ensure, as best we can, that this is nothing more than artwork with a political statement," Mazur said.

Columbia College officials said Tuesday that the school stands behind its decision to host the exhibit.

College spokeswoman Micki Leventhal confirmed that two Secret Service agents visited the Glass Curtain Gallery and asked questions about the artists.

The agents took photos of several pieces, including "Patriot Act," the faux 37-cent stamp created by Chicago artist Al Brandtner that shows a gun pointed toward President Bush, she said.

They also asked the gallery's director for the names and numbers of the exhibit's artists, she added, but the director declined.

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