CNSNews’ Penny Starr caused an uproar in 2010 when she published a story titled, “Smithsonian Christmas-Season Exhibit Features Ant-Covered Jesus, Naked Brothers Kissing, Genitalia, and Ellen DeGeneres Grabbing Her Breasts.” Starr’s story, a breathless review of a groundbreaking National Portrait Gallery exhibit on the gay and lesbian experience in American art, started a textbook case of the right-wing controversy machine, ultimately resulting in the Smithsonian’s removal of a work from the exhibit.
Apparently encouraged by last Christmas’s triumph, Starr is at it again. Her new target: a National Portrait Gallery exhibit on Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. That the Smithsonian would twice in a row acknowledge the existence of gay people during the winter months is too much for Starr:
For the second year in a row, the federally funded National Portrait Gallery (NPG), a part of the Smithsonian Institution, held an exposition during the Christmas season focused on the homosexual lifestyle.
“Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories,” an exhibition appearing at the NPG from Oct. 14, 2011 through Jan. 22, 2012, focuses on lesbian activist and writer Gertrude Stein.
The exhibit, set up in five rooms at the taxpayer-funded museum, highlights Stein’s lesbian relationship with Alice B. Toklas and Stein’s “second family” of homosexual men, some of whom collaborated with Stein on various projects.
On the wall at the entrance to the exhibit, Stein is described as “one of America’s most famous writers.” It gives brief descriptions of each of the five stories, including “Domestic Stein,” which “looks at the lesbian partnership of Stein and Alice B. Toklas, focusing on their distinctive dress, home décor, hospitality, food and pets.” The “Art of Friendship,” the introduction says, “explores Stein's relationships and collaborations after World War I with the neoromantics, a circle of international artists who were young, male, and gay.”