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First Lady Laura Bush Visits Smithsonian American Art Museum Exhibition "Arte Latino" in Chicago

Media only: Laura Baptiste (202) 275-1595
Lynn Gutter (202) 275-1591

CHICAGO, Sept. 6—Today First Lady Laura Bush invited Marta Sahagún de Fox, First Lady of Mexico, and other dignitaries to preview "Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum" where they met a number of the artists whose work is featured in the exhibition.

Laura Bush, honorary patron for "Arte Latino," selected the exhibition as an occasion to celebrate the arts and honor the nation's contemporary Latino artists. Mrs. Bush's interest in this exhibition continues her support of Latino art that began while she was the First Lady of Texas.

"Arte Latino," which opens at the Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago on Sept. 8, is one of eight exhibitions from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's national "Treasures to Go" tour.

"The United States and Mexico have a beautiful heritage, both together and apart from one another, and that beauty is well captured in the Smithsonian's 'Arte Latino' exhibition," said Bush. "We're fortunate that the Smithsonian American Art Museum has compiled this collection for us—it's a snapshot of our life and times, and a compelling collage of our cultures, both past and present. Many thanks for putting this show on the road and for inviting us to this preview here in Chicago."

"Mrs. Bush knows what it means to kindle the excitement that transforms lives," said Elizabeth Broun, the museum's Margaret and Terry Stent Director. "All of us who believe in the power of art to change lives are grateful for her leadership, and we are delighted that she has come to visit our exhibition today."

"Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum" highlights more than 300 years of Latino art from across the United States. These 66 paintings, sculptures and photographs represent many different cultural traditions developed by mostly Spanish-speaking artists who have settled in America.

The artists in "Arte Latino" include both U.S.-born and immigrant artists, among them Puerto Ricans, Mexican-Americans and Chicanos, Cuban-Americans and Latin Americans who have created art throughout the United States. The Smithsonian American Art Museum began actively collecting Latino art about a decade ago. The current exhibition is a sampling of these rich traditions—not a comprehensive survey of them—selected from almost 500 Latino artworks now in the museum's collection.

"Arte Latino" is one of eight exhibitions in "Treasures to Go," from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, touring the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group® is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people and is the sole sponsor of "Arte Latino" at the Terra Museum.

"Treasures to Go," launched in January 2000, is the most extensive art tour ever. The positive response from visitors around the country has been dramatic, with a number of museums reporting record-breaking attendance overall and all time highs in visitorship for lectures and other public programs. The tour's primary goal is to bring the nation's foremost collection of American art to new audiences as well as art lovers across the United States who might not be able to visit the museum's historic home in Washington D.C. More information and full itineraries for "Treasures to Go" can be found on the museum's Web site at

An illustrated gift book titled "Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum," written by Jonathan Yorba of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and co-published with Watson-Guptill Publications, a division of BPI Communications, accompanies the exhibition. The book, priced at $19.95, includes 54 color illustrations with short discussions of each artwork.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection began with gifts of art donated to the federal government in 1829 and has evolved into the world's most important American art holdings with approximately 39,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, photographs, folk art and contemporary crafts.

While the three-year renovation of the museum's main building—the Old Patent Office—continues, American Art offers a full program of exhibitions at its Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W.). For information about Renwick Gallery activities, call (202) 357-2700. Please visit the museum's award-winning Web site at

Note to Editors: Call (202) 275-1594 for images.