White House nixes Seattle artist's ornament


by Associated Press


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 12:36 PM

Video: White House nixes Seattle artist's ornament

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 'Tis not the season to post calls for impeachment on the White House Christmas tree.

A spokeswoman for first lady Laura Bush said Tuesday that the tree will not include an ornament by a Seattle artist that supports President Bush's impeachment.

Artist Deborah Lawrence said she wanted to salute Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle, a longtime Bush foe who backs impeachment.

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The 9-inch ball Lawrence created is covered with swirly red and white stripes and features a picture of McDermott. Tiny glued-on text hails the impeachment resolution.

Mrs. Bush had asked members of Congress to pick artists to decorate ornaments for the White House tree to showcase all 435 congressional districts.

Sally McDonough, a spokeswoman for the first lady, told The Washington Post on Monday that there were no plans to pull Lawrence's artwork. But on Tuesday, McDonough said the ornament was inappropriate.

"I think it really is a shame and, quite frankly, not very much in the holiday spirit," she told The Associated Press.

Instructions to the artists were very clear: Decorate the ornaments in a patriotic, red, white and blue theme, McDonough said. Lawrence's ornament was the only one of about 370 submitted for the White House tree that was rejected, she said.

McDermott's office said the congressman had no role in the design of Lawrence's ornament.

"When the request came in, we contacted a local arts organization which selected an artist. We had no role whatever in the theme, design, etc.," said Mike DeCesare, McDermott's chief of staff.

Lawrence, 55, a collage artist, told the Post she was surprised to get the invitation.

"I was at first nauseated, then realized it was an opportunity," she said.

Lawrence frequently combines politics and satire in her work, and said she saw the ornament as a perfect way "to highlight Jim McDermott because he's a hero of mine."

The ornament also highlights Washington state's 1919 labor strike, its suffrage movement and the violent anti-World Trade Organization riots of 1999.