A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 358: Obama in a New Light

June 23rd · No Comments

img_7828Recently I headed to Williamsburg in Brooklyn to see an exhibit by Joe Mangrum, an artist friend who creates fantastic visions from everyday things. He and I moved from San Francisco about the same time.

Joe unlocked the door of Chi Contemporary Fine Art and showed me around just after the place closed for the night. I felt the thrill of a break-in. As someone with no inroads into New York’s art scene, I am accustomed to viewing my art at the Guggenheim or the Met, places with hefty entrance fees and guards. How refreshing, then, to have a tour by the artist, and to hear him explain that that golden sun on the wall is in fact a giant wok he acquired 14 years ago from an abandoned Chinese restaurant.

My favorite piece was ‘Hope and Faith,” a portrait, inspired by aimg_7830 photo, of President Obama holding a fluffy white dog. Joe painstakingly rendered it from sand and acrylic and even imparted a twinkle to the president’s eye, and the dog’s. He placed the portrait inside an ornate door frame he found in Gowanus and painted it in gold leaf.

At first I thought “Obama with a dog. How cute.” Then Joe explained how the little white dog represents the American people, vulnerable and entrusted to the hands of this man we hardly know. I stepped back and took a second, harder look.

Joe’s work is at Chi Contemporary until July 6. Check it out.

Tags: East Coast v. West Coast · Museums & Art · Personalities · Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

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