- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2002

The relationship between money and art sprang to everyone's lips the minute she arrived at the opening of the exhibition "Capturing Nureyev: James Wyeth Paints the Dancer" at the Kennedy Center Wednesday night.
After months of unrelenting controversy over her proposal to create a hall devoted to outstanding American achievers, Mrs. Reynolds withdrew her planned gift. Now she will be looking elsewhere for worthy recipients of her largess.
"We're not disappointed. We're moving on," the philanthropist said as reporters, photographers and friends crowded around in the Roof Terrace-level gallery. "There are so many great opportunities in this town."
Mrs. Reynolds refused to say whether she would consider becoming involved with another Smithsonian project, although her husband, Wayne Reynolds, already seemed to have reached a decision in the matter:
"I don't know how we can ever make it work. Not in my lifetime," he said.
The Reynoldses certainly had their sympathizers in the crowd of 500 guests. Among them: Ken Behring, the California mogul who has given or pledged $100 million to the Smithsonian. (Mr. Behring pronounced that donors' "hard-earned money is not government money." They want to "have some say" in how it gets spent.)
Problematic, privately funded cultural and arts projects may have been the event's hot conversational topic, but James Wyeth's sleek images of famed ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev were the visual sensation.
Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser, a long-time Nureyev fan (he saw the Russian dancer dozens of times in "Cinderella," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Swan Lake") said Mr. Wyeth as the exhibit's name suggests really succeeded in "capturing" the dancer's spirit and charisma.
"You can get a sense of the animalistic quality of Nureyev in these paintings," Mr. Kaiser said. "You kind of expect him to explode out of the frame."
The exhibit is on display in conjunction with a Kennedy Center appearance by the Kirov Ballet, which Mr. Nureyev left when he defected from the Soviet Union in 1961.
"I think Rudolph would've been thrilled that members of his old company are dancing here," Mr. Wyeth said as he showed off his work to friends and VIP guests. Aside from his own paintings and drawings, the exhibit also includes photos of the Russian dancer in different productions, a number of his costumes and even a pair of white leather ballet pumps (which seem remarkably small for such a great talent).
Asked about his own relationship with the volatile and mercurial superstar, Mr. Wyeth responded with a terse but telling reply.
"It was extraordinary," he noted "but also very draining."
Included among the guests: Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick ; banker David Rockefeller ; Jean Kennedy Smith ; Sens. Christopher J. Dodd, Edward M. Kennedy, Olympia Snowe and Ted Stevens ; French Ambassador Francois Bujon de l'Estang ; Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov and his wife, Svetlana ; former FBI director Louis Freeh and Mr. Wyeth's wife, Phyllis .
There also was an octogenarian gentleman with thick white hair and a more dignified and peaceful bearing than most: the legendary Andrew Wyeth, James Wyeth's proud father.
"Isn't it great?" the elder Mr. Wyeth said. "I really think Jamie's taken off in this show."
What about his own recent work?
"I haven't painted for years," he said. "It's Jamie's turn now."

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