Sunday, July 25, 2010


clipped from

One day, an artist friend of mine stopped by the house and spied the painting.

“Who did that?” he asked.

“I did,” I answered proudly.

“I can believe you did the face,” said my friend, a funny, blunt guy. “That sucks. But who did the eyes?”

“I did,” I answered. He stared at me hard. “I had help,” I added sheepishly.

“You had more than help.”

In reading Barack Obama’s 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, my friend’s accurate assessment of my TR portrait resonates.

With no known prior writing except, by his own admission, “a journal of daily reflections and very bad poetry,” Obama is alleged to have sat down and written the above sentence. I could just as probably have painted the Mona Lisa.

“unruly maleness,” “unadorned insistence on respect” and “withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage” lace the book.

These are the “eyes” of the book. Yet in the several spontaneous interviews Obama has given on the subject of race, one sees not a glimpse of this eloquence and insight.