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New exhibit at the Money Museum reaches out to art lovers

The Money Museum's innovative new exhibit, $how me the Money: The Dollar as Art, promises to add new dimensions -- namely artistic -- to the American Numismatic Association's extensive collection of coinage and paper currency.

Organized by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board and circulated by the Trust for Museum Exhibitions in Washington, D.C., the exhibit features 40 works inspired by our nation's famous greenback. Created by 27 American and international artists and including pieces from pop-art legends Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Dowd, the show presents 40 different ways you surely have not seen, nor thought about, the dollar. The majority of pieces incorporate actual money into the art through collages, sculpture, weaving, whitewashed paintings and papier-mch.

Old Glory meets the almighty dollar in two pieces. The first, created by Ray Beldner and titled "Flag," is a 40-inch-by-20-inch quilted flag made by sewing numerous dollar bills together. The 50 stars are each painstakingly embroidered into the fabric and bear the repeated effigy of Jefferson. The second Stars and Stripes in the collection, "The American Way" by Steven Gagnon, is a serigraph print of the old red, white and blue over a series of dollar bills similar to Beldner's.

Many of the most remarkable pieces of the show are clever reconfigurations of actual dollar bills. "Reconstruction," by Barton Benes, is a shredded currency assemblage showing the process of putting a dollar bill back together after it has been shredded into hundreds of pieces. "Shrinking and Stretching," by Ivan Chermayeff, is another shredded currency assemblage that defies imagination with its remarkable intricacy and detail. The piece shows the dollar as it would look in front of a distortion mirror at the amusement park, however, instead of working with an intact dollar, the artist has instead cut up dollar bills into miniscule shreds and assembled them together to give the impression of a rubber dollar.

Many artists have also used old currency. Lisa Kokin's tiny sculptures are made entirely from old bills shredded for souvenirs. The piece "Business Tables" is small and intricate enough to be placed in a miniature dollhouse, while "All Debts Public and Private" is a cryptic piece resembling the skeletal frame of a fish. Richard Mock has a number of works that will pique the interest of the metaphorical fishing aficionado; "Money Lure" is a collection of 15 fishing lures made entirely from shredded money.

According to Lawrence Lee, curator of the Money Museum, this exhibit promises to draw a new crowd to the American Numismatic Association. "This exhibit does not only focus on coin collectors, but also art lovers," says Lee.

Whether you're obsessed with money or art, $how me the Money will definitely deliver.

-- Aaron Menza

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