Kensington portrait artist to paint giant likeness of Barack Obama
Kensington artist Jason Swain, known for his commemorative portraits of Washington Redskins player Sean Taylor and The Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin has most recently been commissioned to paint a presidential-sized montage of President-elect Barack Obama.
The painting, which will measure 8 feet by 4 feet, will depict a central Obama figure between the Capitol and the White House, with two images of the president-elect's face above. The bottom corners will feature likenesses of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, chosen for their influence on Obama's historic election. Swain will also paint excerpts from the speeches of King and Lincoln.
Swain said the man who commissioned the painting wishes to remain anonymous, but had mentioned to him that if Obama won the election he would commission the work.
"I thought it was just a joke," Swain said. "But apparently he followed through."
Swain hopes to start soon on the portrait, which he expects to take about four weeks to complete. He hopes to finish it by the inauguration. He said his client is "fairly well connected in politics" and believes the intent is to offer the piece as a gift to Obama when it is finished.
Because of the substantial size of the work, Swain cannot do it in his house and had to seek another venue, finding a willing host in the Principal of Oakland Terrace Elementary School in Silver Spring, who offered up the school's art room.
He said he may work on painting while students are in the classroom so they can watch it evolve, and speculated art teachers may even build projects around it for the students. His presence there is going to be very obvious because he can't reach the top of the painting and will have to erect a small scaffold.
"It's as tall as a roof," Swain said of the canvas.
He said his location at the school will be convenient, and he's happy to have a place to paint because some venues he contacted were not willing to help, but overall he doesn't expect the work to be controversial.
"Some people that I contacted to find out whether I could paint in their establishment had some worries about the political ramifications, but I think there's not anything political about it," Swain said. "He's everybody's president. It's not like it's during the election."
Santa's the busiest man
It's a good thing he's got the elves making toys, because Santa will be in the area all day Saturday, spreading cheer to the neighborhoods.
He starts off with an arrival at Station 5 of the Kensington Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday, 10620 Connecticut Ave., where he'll be from 8:30-11:30 a.m. The jolly old elf will dine on eggs, bacon, pancakes, juice and coffee at the annual Breakfast With Santa, which costs $6 for adults 13 and older and $3 for kids age 3-12. The fire equipment will be on display and parents are welcome to bring cameras to catch a shot of St. Nick with their little ones.
The event will also feature a Secret Santa Shop, where children can buy presents for their families behind the confidentiality of dividers. Items cost $2 or less, and will be wrapped by fire station volunteers.
Later in the day, Santa Claus will make his way over to the Garrett Park Town Hall, 10814 Kenilworth Ave., where he will listen to the holiday wishes of boys and girls and pose for photos from 2 to about 3:30 p.m. Refreshments like hot chocolate and cider will be served to the accompaniment of holiday tunes.
Oh Christmas trees
St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Kensington will hold its annual Christmas tree sale Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 21. The hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The sale will feature fresh Douglas and Fraser fir and Scotch pine trees, all grown in Taneytown. Members of Boy Scout troop 439 will also be on hand selling fresh pine roping and wreaths. The sale will be held in the church parking lot, 10401 Armory Ave.
Woman honored by health education organization
Congratulations to Angela Mickalide of Kensington, who was awarded the Society for Public Health Education's "2008 SOPHE Trophy" at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Society, Oct. 23-25 in San Diego.
The award winner is selected by the SOPHE President for demonstrating exemplary leadership and commitment to the organization. Since joining SOPHE more than 15 years ago, Angela served in several volunteer roles and elected offices, including most recently as Trustee for Publications and Communications. During the past two years, she provided Board oversight to the society's first undergraduate text book, major upgrades to SOPHE's electronic communications systems and the production of the organization's two peer-reviewed journals, bi-monthly newsletter, and weekly e-newsletter.
Angela lives with her husband Alex Alikhani and children Anna and Andrew. She is the director of education and outreach at the Home Safety Council, a national nonprofit based in the District dedicated to preventing injuries that occur in the home.
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