Press Releases

January 2007

Robert Colescott
George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page From an American History Textbook, 1975
Oil on canvas, 84 x 108 inches Collection of Robert H. Orchard


James Esber
Lincoln #14, 2005
Graphite 17 x 14 inches Courtesy of Pierogi, Brooklyn


Dave McKenzie
We Shall Overcome, 2004
Video 5 minutes, 46 seconds Courtesy of the artist


A Group Exhibition of Non-Traditional Portraits of
United States Presidents
On View at the University Art Museum

January 18 through April 1, 2007
Artists’ Reception: Tuesday, January 30, 2007, 5-7 p.m.
Free and open to the public

Albany, NY-- Mr. President features works from 1972 to the present by over thirty artists who have created non-traditional portraits of United States presidents. Using various media including video, sculpture, drawing, and painting, these artists seek ways to penetrate the mythic perceptions of America's most powerful men by providing alternatives to the official portrait. Participating artists include Bill Adams, Yasser Aggour, Melanie Baker, Jesse Bercowetz and Matt Bua, Geoffrey Chadsey, Enrique Chagoya, Chuck Close, Robert Colescott, James Esber, Llyn Foulkes, Wayne Gonzales, Jonathan Herder, Diango Hernández, David Humphrey, Komar and Melamid, Andrew Lenaghan, Kerry James Marshall, Rachel Mason, Dave McKenzie,  David Opdyke, Greta Pratt, Justin Richel, Peter Saul, Martin Schoeller, Robert Terry, Brian Tolle, Jeffrey Vallance, Andy Warhol, Phil Whitman, and Martin Wilner.

The work in Mr. President runs the gamut from irreverent humor to deeply felt homage. Representing a wide range of cultural backgrounds and artistic orientations, the artists selected for this exhibition share an interest in reflecting on the idea of the American presidency in relation to their own artistic practice. Their work provides a provocative sampling of how the American presidency remains an elastic idea that extends far beyond the men who have held its office. 

Exhibition highlights include Robert Colescott's seminal painting, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook (1975), an appropriationist tour de force in which the central figures of Emanuel Leutz's famous 19th-century masterwork are recast in blackface;  Andy Warhol’s silkscreen, Vote McGovern (1972), in which the head of Richard Nixon screened in acidic green looms against a Day-Glo orange background; and two paintings by the classic satirist Peter Saul: Ronald Reagan in Grenada (1984) and Dali Advises the President (2004). Also featured are Jonathan Herder’s comic send-ups of presidential hairstyles; Jeffrey Vallance’s life-size wax sculpture of Richard Nixon holding a copy of the Watergate tapes; Robert Terry’s sincere homages to Abraham Lincoln rendered in vivid impasto on 20-by-16 inch store-bought canvases; James Esber’s intricate drawings in which the familiar visages of Abraham Lincoln and Richard Nixon are transformed into distorted calligraphic terrains crawling with unexpected twists and turns; and Dave McKenzie’s video, We Shall Overcome (2004), in which the artist comically disguised as Bill Clinton navigates the sidewalks of Harlem.

Mr. President is co-curated by JoAnne Carson, Professor of Studio Art and Chair of the Art Department, University at Albany and Corinna Ripps Schaming, Associate Director/Curator, University Art Museum.


A full-color exhibition catalogue will accompany Mr. President. The publication will include an essay by fiction writer and art critic, Lynne Tillman, introductory essays by the exhibition curators, JoAnne Carson and Corinna Ripps Schaming, as well as short entries by each of the artists.

This exhibition is supported by the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, and University Auxiliary Services.

For further information or visual materials, please call (518) 442-4035 or visit our website at www.

MUSEUM HOURS: Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.