I was in my gallery last Friday and heard a couple of complaints about the painting “The Forgotten Man.” One woman said, “I like all your paintings in the gallery except one…it is just too sad. He’s the president of the United States! He shouldn’t be painted like that!”
My response was, “Yes, I agree. It is very sad. It is VERY SAD. But we should not be quiet about these kind of things. I knew when I painted this picture that people would react differently. I hope people will wake up to the situation we are now facing.”
Click on Image to view full painting.
A black man came in and was angry how President Obama was portrayed in the painting. “You are obviously racist. You even have a white man on the bench. All the white presidents and Obama with his back turned to them. This is very offensive!” He then walked out.
In my mind, people who call out “racism” are usually the ones who look at the world through the prism of race. Only about 15% of Americans are black. If I had put a black man on the bench it would have immediately become a statement of race. The fact that Obama is black only has meaning to those who wish to make it so.
The forgotten man on the bench simply represents all Americans of every gender, color and race who may not have the same opportunities in the future because of unconstitutional acts imposed upon us by Obama and previous presidents. The painting would have been silly had I put every gender and race sitting on that bench.
The words people speak can be so revealing. In the last few months since this painting's release I have been accused of everything you can imagine for speaking my mind through this painting. Based on the positive and negative reactions which I have received, I think the painting has been a success. If it causes people to think and feel, then it is successful.