Just past seven o’clock, Washington’s constantly growing artistic community flocked in, all beaming with what else? Hope. Artist Shepard Fairey, the South Carolina native who created the iconic Obama Hope image, was on hand and being swarmed by fans all evening. Though they did leave the newly minted political art star alone while he painted a large-scale portrait of Obama flanked by the US Capitol and the White House, the same one that graced the cover of Washington Life‘s Holiday Issue. Yes, along with all the other works in the show, it is for sale.
I spoke to artists from all over the country who told me about the effect the president-elect had on their work, the powers that be at Irvine Contemporary who had been awake for weeks putting the show together and fixtures on Washington’s social scene, all wide-eyed about the art on display. My personal favorite? A large scale painting that blended the faces of Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama. This amalgamation of icons had a rather inspiring look about him.
Everything came full circle this morning as the Hope portrait, a gift from art collectors and benefactors Heather and Tony Podesta, was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery. I watched with satisfaction as it took its place in its new permanent home, glad that the first, now official portrait of Barack Obama, is staying in Washington for good.
Next on my plate in the new city that never sleeps? The Media Matters for America evening at the Hirshhorn. Stay tuned…