There’s more to Woodley Park than feuding Indian restaurants. Who knew? While wandering around in the rain yesterday, I found one of the neighborhood’s new assets: the Stanford in Washington Art Gallery in what used to be a nasty little restaurant, Thai Town. (“Trust me,” says Stanford in Washington’s program cooridinator Janine Chen, “you should have seen the kitchen.”)

The building was built in the early 1900s and included a grocery store front, which has been partially restored, says Chen. It also includes Stanford U’s program, where students work at internships during the day and live in the building the rest of the time. The gallery space at 2655 Connecticut Ave. NW opened in October and is currently showing its third and most popular exhibit, “Leadership: Oliphant Cartoons & Sculpture from the Bush Years.”

Pat Oliphant, a classic and fantastic skewerist, lets loose on Bush and Cheney, of couse, with fine contributions to the Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Gonzales canons. One of his most brilliant works, though, concerns the Clintons‘ departure. Both are shown walking out of the White House gates loaded down with lamps, rugs, artwork—a lambast on B.C.’s obsession with his legacy and the prospect of H.C.’s return down the road. For a native Australian, Oliphant’s pretty prescient about U.S. politics.

But the exhibit’s greatest highlight, by my estimation anyway, was Oliphant’s description of a speech he gave to a D.C. room lousy with Republicans, including the sitting president at the time, Gerald R. Ford. Oliphant always drew Ford with a Band-Aid across his head, a comment on the late prez’s trademark clumsiness. Following Oliphant’s speech, the artist walked over to Ford and actually drew said Band-Aid on the man’s actual head. Ford, with his also-trademark good humor, sat perfectly still and grinned the whole time. A secret service agent, while also grinning, let Oliphant know that he would not be drawing on the president ever again. Later and as a tribute, Oliphant drew a panel with a laughing , handsome Ford—sans Band-Aid.

The traveling exhibit will be up through July 11.

photo by dbking