Thursday, February 4, 2010

Facebook: Obama surrounding himself with pictures of himself

Name Withheld In the West Wing, President's in years past have surrounded themselves with historical and significant paintings by famous artists. Evidently President Obama has surrounded himself with approximately 300, 11 x 14, pictures of himself that are changed out weekly.

This person's fevered imagination conjures the Remington Peale portrait of George Washington being removed from the Oval Office mantel and replaced with an Obama portrait. When challenged on this preposterous post, the author replied that it was reported by Ed Schultz, a librul talk-radio commentator on MSNBC, after a visit to the White House. A quick Google search reveals lots of kunservatives reacting to Schultz' comment. And to be sure, what Schultz said (audio here) was eyebrow-raising:
First of all you walk into the White House, in the West Wing, and there are picture all over, I mean everywhere! Of President Obama! I mean, of his life in the first year as president of the United States. Now I don’t know if that’s the way it is with every president, but it was almost a shrine. I mean, well, here’s a picture of Obama the president with his kids over here. There he is getting on Air Force One. Here he is with some military people. Here he is on the line working the line at one of his campaign stops. I mean, just, it was just one picture after another!
So what's really going on here? It turns out that Schultz is probably describing the visitor entry area to the West Wing, which is located near the White House Photo Office, and traditionally displays a photo gallery of the President and official visitors from the current week. Here's a detailed description of a visit to the White House in 2004 found on the web (hat tip NiceDeb):
Upon entering the building, we went into a small reception area where there were several large (approx. 18" x 24") and very recent photographs of President Bush on each wall. Lonnie told us that the pictures are rotated on a weekly basis. Most of the pictures were from the President's visit to Florida the prior weekend. All of them were quite good. I asked what was happens to them once they are taken down and was told that some are saved for use in the Presidential Library, and some are given away to the individuals appearing in the photographs with the President.
As for the Oval Office itself, it seems President Obama has made few changes (New York Daily News, 1/20/09):
Except for some Texas-centric paintings, a Winston Churchhill bust and family photographs, the furnishings and artwork favored by President Bush will stay put.

Obama has told friends he loves the taupe oval carpet designed by First Lady Laura Bush in a "sunbeam" pattern. He's also keeping the historic Resolute desk, crafted from the oak timbers of the British warship Resolute and made famous by the picture of President John F. Kennedy's son, John-John, peering out of the kneehole. The desk was presented to President Rutherford Hayes by Queen Victoria in 1880.

To nobody's surprise, a painting and bust of Abraham Lincoln, Obama's favorite predecessor, will retain their places of honor.

Other familiar items that won't be shipped off to storage include the Rembrandt Peale portrait of Gen, George Washington over the office's fireplace, and "The Bronco Buster," the stirring Frederic Remington bronze sculpture.

Obama officials said photos of Obama's family will be displayed on the table behind the Resolute desk when he walks in.

Asked about why he's keeping the new digs essentially intact, a top Obama aide quipped: "It seems that President Bush has a flair for decorating."

There were blank spots yesterday on the Oval Office's walls where Bush's Texas paintings had hung. If Obama doesn't decide on anything to fill in the blanks by today's swearing-in, curator William Allman will select placeholders.
Wikipedia provides an update on the two paintings that Obama chose to flank the Oval Office desk:
Since President Barack Obama took office on 20 January 2009 these paintings have been removed to be replaced by the American impressionist Childe Hassam's painting The Avenue in the Rain and Norman Rockwell's Statue of Liberty. President Obama has not, as yet, changed the Oval Office dramatically. Three subtle changes are the addition of a hand-carved wooden sculpture obtained by him on a 2006 trip to his ancestral home of Kenya. The figurine shows an egg placed gently into a human hand, symbolizing the fragility of power. He has also replaced the Laura Bush-inspired floral decorations with a bowl of wax apples and has replaced the decorative plates on the oval office bookshelves with books.
While his changes to the Oval Office have been conservative, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Obamas have some bigger ideas for the White House overall:
The Obamas are sending ripples through the art world as they put the call out to museums, galleries and private collectors that they’d like to borrow modern art by African-American, Asian, Hispanic and female artists for the White House. In a sharp departure from the 19th-century still lifes, pastorals and portraits that dominate the White House’s public rooms, they are choosing bold, abstract art works.
Los Angeles art critic Edward Goldman enthuses about their choices in a post with images of the artworks.

Thus, it turns out that the facts of the decor at the White House don't support the desired kunservative narrative of an egomaniacal Obama turning everything upside down.

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