- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 26, 2001

Arthur F. Burns, who was chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, had lunch with politician-art collector Nelson Rockefeller one day in
1977. Mr. Burns enthusiastically described the fine arts program he had initiated at the Federal Reserve two years earlier.
Mr. Rockefeller was excited. "Im going to send you something," he reportedly said. Later, an enormous painting by abstract-expressionist Helen Frankenthaler arrived.
Miss Frankenthalers "Three Color Space" (1966), with its brilliant red band, dominates the Federal Reserves current show of its 25 years of collecting and exhibiting.
The boards involvement with art may come as a surprise. In fact, the programs 300 artworks, dating from the 1830s, and its frequent exhibits may be the best-kept secret in town. This unusual selection of 49 works deserves special attention.
Mr. Burns the economist was also an artist. He painted summers at his farmhouse in Vermont. His abstraction of 1977 greets visitors to the exhibit.
The programs limited budget dictates eclectic, unusual choices for the collection. Mary Anne Goley, program director and curator since its inception, acquires objects through donations and cash. The program accepts contributions only from individuals and businesses not regulated by the Federal Reserve.
Miss Goley is also resourceful. She admires the paintings of Maurice Prendergast and wanted one for the fine arts program.
"I sent a … letter telling his sister-in-law and executor of his estate we wanted a Prendergast," Miss Goley says. "She sent the most charming little view of Boston Harbor painted about 1900 to 1905. Its a watercolor full of white flecks for the white caps."
Miss Goley also puts on unusual exhibitions. The program was the first to display the work of Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the United States, in 1985. Last year it explored the influence of Spanish artist Diego Velasquez on American painters in "The Influence of Velasquez on Modern Painting, the American Experience."
She also exhibited paintings by the New York modernist Samuel Halpert and the adventurous cubist expatriate Gerald Murphy. The curator organized a large exhibit of paintings by the photographer Edward Steichen in 1988.
Miss Goley says the most popular exhibit was "The Frame in America: 1860-1960," a show of frames chosen for their interesting designs. She showed them without paintings in 1995.
On a trip to New York City the program director found O. Louis Guglielmis "New York 21," painted in 1949. With its sharp, planar streets and buildings and zany men and women, the work summed up New York for her.
Buying it was not easy. The art dealer named a high price at first. Miss Goley researched costs of Guglielmi paintings and negotiated a fair price.
Landscapes scatter throughout the exhibit. Charles Rosens "The Viaduct" (1926) is a strong, Paul Cezanne-influenced view.
Mr. Rosen is most famous as a "Pennsylvania impressionist," but he also spent time in Woodstock, N.Y. He became friends there with George Bellows, the legendary American painter of boxers.
Miss Goley bought "The Viaduct" during a visit to Woodstock one summer. "The Bellows influence is obvious. Rosen repeated the swinging ropes of the boxing ring with the tangled-up tree limbs," she says.
An unusual treat is Arthur Wesley Dows luminous "Tidal Pools" (1910-1920). Asian philosophies and styles influenced him and imbue the work with unusual subtlety. The patterning of water that ebbs from pink sand and the high horizon line are typically Japanese, while the tonalities of pinks, blues and whites spring from the impressionists.
Otis Kayes "Before And" and "After Taxes" are appropriate for a Federal Reserve Board collection. He is a master trompe loeil (fool-the-eye) artist.
Mr. Kaye liberally appropriates from other artists, and here it is Pablo Picasso. He copied a Picasso onto a new etching plate, added oil for the trompe loeil and painted coins and currency for the top layer.

WHAT: "In Public Trust, Twenty-Five Years of Collecting Art at the Federal Reserve Board"
WHERE: Federal Reserve Board Gallery, C and 2Oth streets NW
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by appointment, through Aug. 24
TICKETS: Free
PHONE: 202/452-3686


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