Jackie, 2007 Oil on linen 40 × 30 inches
Jackie, 2007
Oil on linen 40 × 30 inches

Say what you will about JFK, and hopefully its mostly good things, but Jackie was a tremendous first lady. Kennedy I think was a great President, and symbolic for so much, but some people have their issues. I can’t imagine what you might want to say that would be negative about Jackie, who assumed her First Ladyship with perhaps not the same staunch power of Eleanor Roosevelt, but with a feminine power all her own. I like everything she stood for, and for her incredible finesse, protocol, and sense of fashion. When JFK died, she was the one who symbolically carried the weight for the country mourning—and instead of depicting her crying in her pillbox hat as Warhol did (although I did paint this as an emotional, expressionist moment also in the show), for this heavenly wall I thought it would be appropriate to place this painting, originally to serve as a model of a great American in the show Friends and Family at Brett Shaheen in Cleveland, next to the Madonna and Christ, as a non-religious portrait hopefully breathing life into this icon, in heaven as it seems she already is, standing in front of this screen which hopefully also comes alive in the hegemony of the painting. I love that she loved culture and historic places and things—it is because of her and her campaigning in part the Grand Central Station still stands, and that the Temple of Dendur graces the Met. She is one of our great first ladies, and never will be eclipsed (although Eleanor and Michelle Obama are definitely in her constellation!).