Marco Rubio, Rick Scott target ‘offensive’ Ché Guevara portraits in NEA-funded installations
Photo via Raleigh News and Observer

nasher-pop-Serrano-guerrillero
Rubio and Scott aren't interested in certain dialogue, vital or otherwise.

U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott aren’t known as art critics.

But they know what they don’t like and that includes portraits of Cuban revolutionary Ché Guevara — especially when federal funds are used to promote them.

The Florida duo focused its ire Tuesday at National Endowment for the Arts funding appropriated to a traveling exhibit that features depictions of Guevara, “propaganda celebrating a thug who mercilessly silenced his opponents with bullets.”

“We write with great concern regarding a federal grant awarded to the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, TX, where an exhibition titled Pop América 1965-1975 features portraits paying homage to Ernesto ‘Ché’ Guevara. The exhibit has subsequently traveled to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University as well as Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art,” the Senators wrote.

The exhibit is, according to the curators, an attempt to “create a vital dialogue that crosses national borders, and includes Judy Baca, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Jorge de la Vega, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, among others.”

But Rubio and Scott aren’t interested in that dialogue, vital or otherwise, and took umbrage with a section of the museum’s website that described the event as featuring “bold contributions” to “social protest, justice movements and debates about freedom.”

“It is disturbing U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to fund an exhibition that glorifies an individual who hated the United States, our commitment to democratic principles, and the values of individual freedom that we so deeply cherish,” the letter continues.

“Those who choose to praise Guevara fundamentally ignore his role in the mass murder of innocent lives during the Cuban Revolution, as well as those who were denied the right to due process. His contempt for democracy, freedom of press, and LGBTQ individuals has been well documented,” Rubio and Scott contend.

The Senators “respectfully request” clarification of “the appropriateness of content featured in an exhibit that was partly funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars.”

“A contextualization of the works in question would have provided an important opportunity for education and reflection, and yet a factual history of Ché Guevara’s bloody legacy [is] not included in the program. We would also like to know what guidelines, if any, are in place to guide and oversee the decision-making process in the future.

“Lastly, we urge you to ensure that individuals responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity are not featured in any NEA funded exhibits without clearly and unambiguously highlighting their heinous crimes and memorializing their victims,” Rubio and Scott add.

In response to the letter, Nasher Museum Director Wendy Hower said Rubio and Scott  “misquoted” the museum’s website. She said the website description was referring to the featured artists rather than the subject matter of their works, Guevara or otherwise.

The full description: “United by the common use of Pop’s rich visual strategies, the artists made bold contributions to conceptualism, performance and new media art, as well as social protest, justice movements and debates about freedom.”

Additionally, while the McNay Art Museum did receive federal funding for the exhibit, the Nasher did not, The Duke Chronicle reports.

Conservative politicians have often used NEA grants as grounds for rhetorical attacks. An Andres Serrano work that depicts a crucifix in urine has been the gold standard for dubious expenditures, one that still inspires ire decades after it was a flashpoint in the 1980s.

North Carolina U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, who at the time was considered the most conservative member in the Senate (and was once nicknamed “Senator No”), said Serrano was no “artist.”

In fact, Helms said, “he’s a jerk.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


19 comments

  • NoMoreRepublicans!

    October 1, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    Freakin’ ridiculous! The two of ’em are fascists! Yuck!

    • FacePalm

      October 1, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      The only thing that’s “freakin ridiculous” is the left pretending to be the party for human rights, while simultaneously glorifying brutal dictators. I’m sure you’d be fine with paintings glorifying Hitler too.

    • Bill

      October 2, 2019 at 9:08 am

      No th ignorant ass worshipers at occupy democrats are the nazis!

    • jon

      October 3, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      You are uneducated! Or simply bat-shit crazy

  • Patrick Cook

    October 1, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    “Those who choose to praise Guevara fundamentally ignore his role in the mass murder of innocent lives during the Cuban Revolution, as well as those who were denied the right to due process. His contempt for democracy, freedom of press, and LGBTQ individuals has been well documented,” Rubio and Scott contend.

    Using this logic we should remove all Pictures of the sitting President. Score one for the 1st Amendment!

    • Luis H. Santamaría

      October 1, 2019 at 11:05 pm

      What about Mr.Rubio deeply involved in the process to provide legal inmigratory status to the well recognized terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, besides a torturer who,in the 70s arrived to Venezuela under the nickname “Commisioner Basilio” to instruct the local security forces on torture methods; even pregnant women were his victims during his tenure in Caracas. And what about being the star lobbyst in Washington for the colombian ex-president who has indictments in the International Judicial Court on charges of genocide and selective assasinations. Credibility is at the level of the basement for these individuals, posters of the lobbycracy and corruptocracy América has come to be.

    • Elisa

      October 2, 2019 at 11:56 am

      He was not cuban…he born in Argentina…where they use che from italy language. ..as a way to generalize the calling to a person s name or hey you

    • Love my President

      October 2, 2019 at 9:21 pm

      Coming from a pinko commie taking a cheap shot at the best President in America’s history!

      • gary

        October 3, 2019 at 2:28 pm

        GOD BLESS DJT! MAGA 2020 landslide!

  • Sonja Fifch

    October 2, 2019 at 8:13 am

    Just another goper trumper enablers trying to distract. Idiots been over to the panhandle to check on those folks? And of course as goper trumpers you are enabling traitor trump to admit he is a damn scum bag! Woah both of you Richy Rick and whereisRubio are damn losers. Get out.

  • Edward Freeman

    October 3, 2019 at 7:29 am

    What an embarrassment Florida’s two senators are. They come off as completely ignorant. The exhibition is about Pop Art, not Cuban or American politics. Regardless of what the senators think about it or indeed what Che himself would think about it, the iconic image of Che is perhaps the most potent and universally recognizable example of Pop Art and modern American art generally. The senators should learn their subject matter and dispense with the stalking horses.

    • gary

      October 3, 2019 at 2:27 pm

      Using your premise, I guess you would be fine with our tax dollars spent on a Hitler display? Edward, you are daffy pal!

      • Edward Freeman

        October 3, 2019 at 5:59 pm

        Don’t be stupid Gary. I said nothing like that, I settle the no premise that would draw that conclusion and I don’t even know what a “Hitler display” is supposed to be. If by “Hitler display” you mean Nazi era art, then yes I think it would be great to produce a show on that subject. Such an art show would be very educational for many Americans, but it would not contain any art. You see the Nazis in Germany hated art, they looted museums destroyed works, ended careers and killed artist. Like our dim-witted Republican Senators, the Nazis hated and even feared what they did not understand. Marco Rubio and Prick Scott are carrying on a long right-wing pogrom against the arts and against artist that previously ran through the German Nazis, the late Senator Jesse Helms and to Mario and Prick today. So yeah, such an education exhibit is a great idea Gary. Who knows, maybe they could dumb it down enough for even Republicans to understand.

  • DisplacedCTYankee

    October 3, 2019 at 7:30 am

    To Rubio and Scott: What about taxpayer dollars in the millions being spent to fly Trump to his golf clubs around the country? Where’s your incense about that?

  • PB Wolf

    October 3, 2019 at 8:27 am

    I sincerely wish these two would pay attention to their constituents in Florida. It’s like we don’t even exist.

    • gary

      October 3, 2019 at 2:31 pm

      Tell that to you Democrat ran house PB! Pelosi has said… Nothing gets done for 15 months! They do not want to do anything for the people, but impeach. We all know there will be no impeachment, they simply do not want to give Trump a win by passing anything bipartisan like a bill to reduce drug prices! But of course you probably don’t care!

      • Edward Freeman

        October 3, 2019 at 6:21 pm

        Gary, you are showing your ignorance again. We know you are just repeating talking points fed to you by some right-wing press office somewhere. And don’t get me wrong, we are all very happy that you can read. However, this audience isn’t your dazed geriatric Fox News audience. We have critical thinking skills, Gary. We also know how to use Google. https://thehill.com/homenews/house/396401-569-house-passed-bills-await-action-in-the-senate

  • Sam

    October 3, 2019 at 9:56 am

    I’m just glad they are willing to take up such a serious problem that the American people are obviously very concerned about. These images might corrupt the youth if allowed to go unchecked…

    • gary

      October 3, 2019 at 2:34 pm

      100% agreed Sam!

      It’s bad enough the fashion industry hijacks young minds with this image, as though the bastard mass murder was the complete opposite of Hitler! He was POS, and no patriot would ever wear anything with image on it!

Comments are closed.


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