Obama in the Window

October 31, 2008

My artist friend Benjamin Alexander Clark churned out twenty paintings of Barack Obama in three days this week. An amazing feat by any standard, though I’m not surprised given Benjamin’s talents and energy. As of this afternoon, four had sold — the fourth to me.

The Obama paintings are prominently displayed at Cannibals on NW 21st Avenue in Portland, where owner Pamela Springfield features works by ninety-six local artists.

I stopped by Cannibals intending only to photograph the Obama portraits. Should have known I couldn’t resist. I rationalized the purchase this way: it’s a good omen for Tuesday. And to reinforce the omen, I put Obama in the window of the home office I share with my wife, Suzame. Until the election is won, it faces toward the much-traveled sidewalk and street along the side of our house.

Suzame was enthusiastic about the purchase, though it’s out of bounds for our constrained budget. She feels just as passionately as I do about his candidacy. If fact, she turned out an articulate epistle about Obama today in reaction to a hateful progaganda email from a former high school classmate.

I wrote a long piece about Benjamin for The Oregonian in February, which began our friendship. Unfortunately, the story isn’t available online anymore, unless you pay a third-party archival site. However, a wonderful video slide show and audio commentary about his work, made while I was reporting the story, is available here.

When I text messaged Benjamin that I had snagged an Obama, he told me had just finished five more and was pondering another rendition: the next president of the United States with an oversized Afro.

I’ll suggest to Benjamin that he donate Afro Obama to Sarah Palin, so she can hang it in her living room and wink at it while boning up on the issues for 2012.