- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2002

He has been called a pop icon, a neo-fauvist, an abstract expressionist and, most notably, the United States' "painter laureate." This week, artist Peter Max blew into town for exhibitions of paintings from his recent "Pop to Patriotism" series.

Thursday found him at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Yesterday, he showed up at Tysons Galleria. Tonight from 6 to 9 p.m., he opens another show at the Wentworth Gallery at White Flint in North Bethesda.

Mr. Max, 65, has enjoyed phenomenal success, which began in the 1960s with brilliantly colored psychedelic images tied to that decade's youth culture. He later went on to create dream-world figures. More recently, he has immersed himself in artwork that promotes causes about which he is passionate human and animal rights, world peace, ecology and the environment. In 1974, Mr. Max created the first-ever 10-cent stamp, which reads, "Preserve the Environment."

When he is reached by telephone at his studio in New York City, one of his first queries is, "Do you have a dog?" His feeling for animals is so strong that he recently rescued a cow that had jumped over a 6-foot fence to escape slaughter in Cincinnati. He adopted the cow, which he calls Cindy Woo and, of course, painted her.

Mr. Max welcomes returning to Washington. "It's a special place for me," he says. "I've painted five U.S. presidents, including George Bush senior, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton [and Gerald Ford]. I had exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and National Air and Space Museum. The Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service sent one of my exhibitions to 48 museums around the country."

That's not to mention the gift he presented in June to first lady Laura Bush a limited-edition print of the White House that he created for the 30th anniversary of the American Institute for Public Service's Jefferson Awards. Mrs. Bush was this year's co-chairman of the awards, which recognize outstanding community service.

Tonight's exhibit reception at the Wentworth Gallery will include paintings from the "Liberty," "Flag With Heart" and "Cosmic" series and is expected to draw 500 to 1,000 people. Mr. Max says the biggest turnout for any of his shows was at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1991. "Over 14,000 came," he says.

Mr. Max will return here Oct. 16 for book signings of the eye-popping "The Art of Peter Max" by critic Charles A. Riley II (Harry N. Abrams Inc., $49.95), the most recent book published on his art. The artist will sign the hefty, lavishly illustrated coffee-table book at Olsson's, 418 Seventh St. NW, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and at Border's Books & Music, 11201 Rockville Pike in Kensington, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

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