KULCHA! Open Thread: Those Are A Couple of Very Fine Portraits

Yeah, I know Betty beat me to it, but it’s the dead hour so I’m gonna indulge myself. As someone who spent many, many weekends during my childhood investigating all the best public-access museums in New York City, I really like the new Obama portraits. They are, IMO, good art. And they are also good political statements — if you think that art is ever “distinct” from politics, you have not read much art history.

Most presidential portraits, even the “famous” ones, have a strong whiff of Sears Portrait Studio with a sidebar of Thomas Kinkade. They are not meant to inform, or to be a ‘true’ likeness of the president portrayed; they are meant to imitate/immortalize whatever the current power structure’s idea of Respectable Leadership looks like. For our modern era, that’s meant White Guy in Suit At His Office, looking self-consciously charming or vaguely constipated, depending on the whims of the sitter and the artist.

Kehinde Wiley’s and Amy Sherald’s portraits are so much not that. But of course, President and Michelle Obama were so much not what a lot of people expected from “our” president, either. Like their subjects, both pictures are striking and intelligent and impossible to ignore. And color-ful (you should forgive me saying). I think Wiley’s painting will end up in the (admittedly specialized) pantheon with Gilbert Stuart’s Washington and Matthew Brady’s Lincoln.

Also, the reactions from both Obamas, very cool:

More werds, from professional art critics. Jerry Saltz, at NYMag:

Wiley rises to the occasion, giving us a troubled, human, pure-of-heart Rock of Gibraltar seated on a hard wooden seat that hints at the bare-bones look of African tribal chairs. The president is seated in and among — not out front and center of — a verdigris overgrowth of flowers. He’s almost fighting for the stage that is already growing over him. But he remains. Real, insistent, a reminder or compass. By not resorting to his usual bravado and monumental, heroic grandiosity that tends to so elevate his subjects that the paintings become closer to kitsch, Wiley’s treatment of Obama allows the person and the ideas represented to bloom much more fully.

Seating the president lower this way, enmeshing him in an overabundant, highly colorful natural setting, sustains a much more mysteriously human presence, brooding, reconciling, not merely knowing, separate, but kindled with fiery curiosity, a simple inner elevation that brings us to the border of the ordinary and the extraordinary. It’s exactly the metaphysical place Obama embodied as president of all America. The pose and enclosing him this way will irk many who will see Obama being made too normal, small, not central, not in grandeur, not an imperial god. I think the picture is true to the way Obama carries himself. He’s clearly the central subject but not entirely central; there’s a lot going on around him to contend with, negotiate; he’s open to his surroundings, part of them, bigger than they are but not the only thing present. He’s still fighting for space. Wiley even gets some of Obama’s melancholy, his tranquilizing thoughtfulness, the whispering sense that he will not be smote…

Phillip Kennicott, at the Washington Post:

[B]oth artists have stressed the importance of creating portraiture of African Americans that will reconfigure the canon and the museum in more inclusive ways. Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery, remembers seeing Sherald engage with young African American girls at a gallery talk. “She bent down and looked at them and said, ‘I painted this for you so that when you go to a museum you will see someone who looks like you on the wall.’ ” Wiley, too, has focused throughout his career on inserting black faces and figures into the traditional context of elite, aristocratic portraiture, although with ambiguous results: It is never clear whether the goal is to remedy the omission, or destabilize the tradition.

The two portraits render their subjects life-size, which underscores their historical importance and accomplishments. Although the artists worked independently of each other, and their works aren’t meant to be seen side by side (they will reside in different galleries when they go on view), they make a curious pairing. Both capture elements that their subjects carefully curated during their public life as president and first lady. A swelling vein on the left side of the president’s face, and the intensity of his gaze, suggest the “doesn’t suffer fools gladly” impatience that occasionally flashed from him, a marked contrast with the smiling and laughing photographic portraits by Chuck Close that have until now stood in for the official portrait in the “America’s Presidents” exhibition…

The Obamas’ potential to change the tone and political culture of this country was blunted by the persistence of that racism before and during their time at the country’s political apex. Now that they have left office, now that their fundamental decency is in high relief by contrast with the new political order, memory is refreshed. They look a bit older than the two people who carried so much collective fantasy of a different America with them to Washington nine years ago. That fantasy was premature and unrealistic, and it is only now clear how powerfully it animated the meanest impulses of those who reject it. But these portraits will remind future generations how much wish fulfillment was embodied in the Obamas, and how gracefully they bore that burden.

Sidebar, also from WaPo, fashion writer Robin Givhan: “The Michelle Obama portrait is striking — and so is the gown she wore for it. This is its story”. Stretch cotton poplin and side-seam pockets, yes!

Second sidebar, I am extremely glad Twitter finally pulled Paul Nehlen’s account before the unveiling. I hope it’s causing him severe emotional pain not to be able to share his ‘thoughts’.

(Only if someone else writes the check, because as I understand it McNaughton only works cash-up-front.)

138 replies
  1. 1
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Speaking of art. Drumpf couldn’t rip off a van Gogh so he’s using his personal collection for his office (photo)

  2. 2
    Mary G says:

    I have so enjoyed the gnashing of wingnut teeth on Twitter today. They seem to have settled for OMG Obama has an extra finger!

    As someone fairly ignorant of modern art I had never heard of either artist, now I want to go to their shows and buy posters from museum shops, which don’t seem to be around yet, but I am sure there will be.

  3. 3
    satby says:

    Nehlen’s an asshole, and probably won’t win the R primary against Ryan, but I hope Ironstache Randy Bryce curb stomps Ryan in the general.

  4. 4
    Elizabelle says:

    Love the portraits. And they look that good in real life too.

    Fastest 8 years of my life.

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    @David Merry Christmas Koch

    he’s using his personal collection for his office

    The question is whether he’s billing the government by the day for displaying them there or is it a flat fee?

  6. 6
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Elaine De Kooning did some fascinating portraits of JFK (photo)

    “When I first saw him, he was bigger than life. It wasn’t that he was really taller than the others. But he seemed to be in a different dimension. The eyes were a total surprise to me. I have never seen the color in photographs—the violet of grapes!”

    In the golden sunlight of Florida, Kennedy seemed to radiate warmth and color—and an energy that became a struggle for the artist:

    “All my sketches from life as he talked on the phone, jotted down notes, read papers, held conferences, had to be made very quickly, catching features and gestures, half for memory, even as I looked, because he never sat still. It was not so much that he seemed restless, rather, he sat like an athlete or college boy, constantly shifting in his chair. At first this impression of youthfulness was a hurdle, as was the fact that he never sat still.”

  7. 7
    Jeff says:

    The only problem I have with Michelle’s portrait is it doesn’t look like her. Not told who it was I would think it a highly stylized generic painting of a black woman.

  8. 8
    Steve in the ATL says:


    Nehlen’s an asshole, and probably won’t win the R primary

    These two statements are unrelated, right?

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    I want Betty Cracker to do my presidential portrait.

  10. 10
    NotMax says:

    If the WaPo link about Nehlen’s Twitter account is borked for others as it is for me, a story at (of all places) the Washington Times from a couple of days ago summarily lays it out.

  11. 11
    satby says:

    @Steve in the ATL: oh, there’s enough assholes around there that would vote for him, but the preponderance of Republicans in that district like to think of themselves as genteel, old fashioned fiscal conservatives (I know people in that area). Overt racism turns them off, even though I consider most of them racist too.

  12. 12
    Aimai says:

    I love both paintings but I do agree the tone of michelles is not as vibrant as I would like.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    For your morning amusement, the Intern’s Revenge

    A Chicago TV station apologized for using “P.F. Chang” in a graphic about the Winter Olympics, instead of PyeongChang, the name of the South Korean county hosting the Games. P.F. Chang’s is the name of an “Asian restaurant concept” chain with over 200 locations in the U.S., including several in the Chicago area.


  14. 14
    geg6 says:


    I do not agree. I love it. And I saw her right away. I think people are having troubl with it because she’s not the smiling, bouncy Michelle we think of in the portrait. But it’s unmistakably her.

  15. 15
    Baud says:

    Some reason for hope

    Corker weighs his options as GOP frets about losing Tennessee

    The two-term senator is being urged to reconsider his retirement amid concerns Republicans could lose his seat in November.


  16. 16
    WaterGirl says:

    @NotMax: You need to click the link.

  17. 17
    Baud says:


    Speaking of Randy

    Randy Bryce’s Campaign Is Not Just Pro-Union—It’s Unionized

    The Campaign Workers Guild has negotiated its first collectively bargained contract, with the Democratic candidate challenging Paul Ryan.


  18. 18
    ThresherK says:

    @Elizabelle: Fastest 8 years of Michelle’s life too, seeing how she’s hardly aged a day in the about ten years since I first ever saw her.

    It occurs to me that there’s no “official” President and First Lady together portrait, is there? How often are the separate official portraits done in such different styles?

  19. 19
    NotMax says:

    Strictly FYI.

    Why is Omarosa scared of a Pence presidency? ‘He thinks Jesus tells him to say things’
    On Monday night’s episode Omarosa, who previously declared on the show that she wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump again “in a million years”, said that a Mike Pence administration would actually be worse. Source

  20. 20
    NotMax says:


    Link leads to an infinite loop without resolution for me, thus provided an alternative for any who have the same dilemma.

  21. 21

    Yesterday was a lovely day in LA, good day for a hike with madame and the kid.

  22. 22
    balconesfault says:

    to be seen in every black church beginning next february

    Can we get a “f*** you Cornell West!” ???

  23. 23
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    @Baud: Some Thing Wrong (video)

  24. 24
    NotMax says:

    Dramatis persona non grata.

    Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president-turned-Ukrainian opposition leader, was deported from Ukraine to Poland on Monday after being detained by armed, masked men at a restaurant in Kyiv and rushed to the airport, according to Ukrainian officials and his supporters.

    Ukraine’s border guard agency had to use force to counter Saakashvili’s supporters at the Kyiv airport, Oleh Slobodyan, a spokesperson for the agency, said on Facebook. Source

  25. 25
  26. 26
    satby says:

    @Baud: so cool. I know a lot of Dems support the other Democrat in the primary, and I’m sure she’s fine, but I love the direct refutation that WWC men are a monolithic Republican block that Randy provides. Blue collar guys I know went Clinton and are reliable Den voters, all the Republicans I know have white collar jobs.

  27. 27
    rikyrah says:

    Good Morning Everyone 😄😄😄

  28. 28
  29. 29
    rikyrah says:

    Countdown Clock:
    Three Days Until WAKANDA 😎😎🙆🙌👏

  30. 30
    satby says:

    @rikyrah: Good morning rikyrah 😺🙋

  31. 31
    rikyrah says:

    That looked beyond heavenly 😄

  32. 32
    Schlemazel says:

    That is the artists style, her AA subjects are done in tones of gray. I get it but I don’t like it because it lakes the power and liveliness of the subject in this case. Also, it looks nothing like her which I find irritating. Lovely pictures but I am disappointed.

  33. 33
    satby says:

    And, ugh, Naughton has already done a Drumpf portrait.

  34. 34
    Baud says:

    @rikyrah: Good morning.

  35. 35

    You’re likely right, Zeddy, which brings up the possibility that Trump’s might be the first portrait galleries refuse to hang.

    if you think that art is ever “distinct” from politics, you have not read much art history.

    It’s that or soft core pornography. SO MUCH classical fine art is that.

    Yeah, the folks afraid Pence will be worse don’t underestimate Trump’s evil, they’re scared of Pence’s insanity.

  36. 36
    Baud says:


    I have a dream that one day, black superheroes will have names that won’t need to begin with “Black.”

    We still have a ways to go.

  37. 37
    Aimai says:

    @Baud: i did not realuze until a recent story about white racism at sporting events that using PFChang as an anti asian slur was a thing. Its definitely the new n word style insult. Its a neo nazi move.

  38. 38
    Steve in the ATL says:


    Blue collar guys I know went Clinton and are reliable Den voters, all the Republicans I know have white collar jobs.

    I voted for both Clintons and am a reliable Dem voter. Plus, my blue collar credentials are solid: I’m wearing a blue button down from brooks brothers.

  39. 39
    Baud says:

    @Aimai: I did not know that. Thanks.

  40. 40
    Manyakitty says:

    @Baud: That sounds about right for the Baud years.

  41. 41
    Manyakitty says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Hey now! Thats postcard-worthy.

  42. 42
    satby says:

    @Steve in the ATL: yeah, but you’re a lawyer. And I don’t really know you. The men I do know are ironworkers and millwrights.

  43. 43
    Aimai says:

    @rikyrah: i never see mivies in theaters anymore but i really want to see this on a big screen. Love the music too.

  44. 44
    Aimai says:

    @Baud: the article I read was just horrifying. Pretty recent and referrung to high school sports.

  45. 45
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    The International Ski Federation (FIS) has dismissed the concerns of snowboarders who complained about treacherous conditions at the women’s slopestyle by telling them that “nobody was forced to go down and compete”.

    A number of riders expressed their anger at the FIS’s decision to allow the event to go ahead in 30mph crosswinds on Monday, which turned one of the most exciting events at these Winter Olympics into a dangerous lottery.

    But FIS spokesperson Jenny Wiedeke insisted that while conditions were tough they were also safe. “We know it was very difficult conditions for the riders,” she said. “Each rider had two opportunities to perform their run. Nobody is forced to go down and compete.

    That comment is bound to provoke anger from the riders, who could hardly have expected to have pulled out of an Olympic final. In total there were only nine clean runs out of 52 in total with riders falling, face-planting or pulling up because they couldn’t build enough speed.

    Do I detect a whiff of misogyny?

  46. 46
    Kay says:


    I love this. They’re exploited, campaign workers. I might have to donate to him now.

  47. 47
    NotMax says:

    So, reports mention that Dolt 45 quickly called Putin to express condolences over the fatal jetliner crash outside Moscow.

    U.S. service member families? Las Vegas gun massacre victims’ relations? Not so much.

  48. 48
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    Gotta love that Facebook ad algorithm that puts up random products while telling you which of your friends enjoy that product line.

    This morning, I got one for a line of extremely erotic lingerie (not quite to fetish wear, but going that direction), that line being “liked” by two women of my professional acquaintance. Now, whenever I talk to them, my mind’s gonna wander into the inappropriate….

  49. 49
    Baud says:

    @satby: If polling is to be believed, the white blue collar people you know are the exception rather than the rule.


    Blood is thicker than water, and kompromat is thicker than both.

  50. 50
  51. 51
    Baud says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes:

    random products…

    … erotic lingerie

    Yeah, right.

  52. 52
    Kay says:


    There are a lot of blue collar Trump supporters. This county is only 25% college degree and it went 70% Trump.

    I think there’s a large cohort of blue collar male Trump supporters who are mad that they pay child support. I’m telling you there is an AMAZING correlation there. Can’t be coincidence. Show me a man who is spitting mad he’s paying child support and there’s a MAGA hat somewhere :)

  53. 53
    Citizen Alan says:


    Blade. Luke Cage. Static. Vixen. The latest iteration of Hawkgirl. The John Stewart Green Lantern, who is vastly superior to the Hal Jordan version. Steel (okay, maybe not that one so much).

    And given the historical political significance of the phrase Black Panther in this country, I kind of adore the fact that a movie called Black Panther is about to become a monstrous hit that will cause millions of racist white Americans to shit their pants.

  54. 54
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Police officer fired for not shooting black suspect wins $175,000

    “He wasn’t angry,” Mader previously told the Guardian. “He wasn’t aggressive, he didn’t seem in position to want to use a gun against anybody. He never pointed it at me. I didn’t perceive him as an imminent threat.”

    But amid Mader’s attempts to convince Williams to drop the weapon, two veteran officers arrived on the scene and, almost immediately, shot and killed Williams.

    Mader, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, received a termination letter 10 days later, which claimed that he failed to respond to the threat. “The unfortunate reality of police work is that making any decision is better than making no decision at all,” it read.

    The city said in a statement that the decision to settle was a call made by its insurance provider, and that it stood by its decision to fire Mader.

  55. 55
    satby says:

    @Baud: I know that they’re in the minority, but that minority was 1/3 of male white voters. And they deserve credit for being and working tirelessly for the good side.
    Edited to add: just pointing it out that no block of demographics is a monolith.

  56. 56
    Baud says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Blade. Luke Cage. Static. Vixen. The latest iteration of Hawkgirl.

    Never heard of them. I’m not into superheroes unless there’s a good movie about them.

    Not knocking Black Panther. Looks like it’ll be awesome. But between that and Black Lightning, I started noticing a pattern.

  57. 57
    Baud says:

    @satby: Oh, absolutely. They stood up to their culture to do what was right. That’s not a easy thing to do.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Baud: We already have that, and have had since the second (mainstream-published) black super hero, Falcon.

  60. 60
    Baud says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: Another one I’ve never heard of.

  61. 61
    NotMax says:


    unless there’s a good movie about them

    You get a pass on unfamiliarity with Steel, then.

    Not Shaq’s finest hour and a half.

  62. 62
    OzarkHillbilly says:


    They stood up to their culture to do what was right. That’s not a easy thing to do.

    Speaking as real live blue collar guy, it wasn’t and isn’t hard to do.

  63. 63
    Baud says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Statistically speaking.

    ETA: you just make it look easy.

  64. 64
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: If I lived in Weirton, I’d be moving before some cop made a decision about me.

  65. 65
    debbie says:


    MO picked the artist for her style and why anyone would expect a portrait not to be in that style is beyond me. This is reminiscent of the kerfuffle over the Vietnam Memorial when people were demanding realistic statues of soldiers instead of an objective statement about War.

  66. 66
    Baud says:

    @NotMax: It’s possible I blocked out that memory.

  67. 67
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: ?

  68. 68
    debbie says:


    I guess when Karl Rove developed his “permanent majority” strategy, he left out the bit about GOPers living on forever. Bastard!

  69. 69
    Baud says:


    As a general matter, it’s hard for individuals to go against their culture. Some do it, but with great angusih. And a few others do it easily and even relish it. When I said it was hard to do, I was speaking generally.

  70. 70
    zhena gogolia says:


    That analogy would work if the portrait were an abstract rather than looking like a fairly realistic portrait of Somebody, just not Michelle Obama. But obviously I just don’t get it. It looks like a fashion illustration to me.

  71. 71
    Kay says:

    Trump finally gets flack for his inadequate and bungled response to a real threat:

    n previous years, the C.D.C. usually held autumn events to encourage flu shots. Led by the director, they could involve detailed discussion of the looming viral threat. Dr. Fitzgerald, new to office, did not hold one.
    Mr. Price’s tenure focused less on public health than on repealing the Affordable Care Act, a mission Mr. Trump demanded. “He better get the votes,” Mr. Trump told a crowd. “If he doesn’t, I’m going to say, ‘Tom, you’re fired!’”
    One day before he actually was fired — or at least forced out — Mr. Price spoke at a flu-related event and got his own shot in front of the audience. But by then, he had been under fire for three weeks over his travel, and the room was full of political reporters, who shouted questions as he fled, jacket still in hand.

    Governing is too boring for these celebrities.

    Also- they’re unqualified.

  72. 72
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:


    Valentine’s shopping led me down a rabbit hole. I read the ads for the descriptions.

  73. 73
    Steve in the ATL says:


    Not Shaq’s finest hour and a half.

    Truly he is no Dennis Rodman when it comes to making movies

  74. 74
    Steve in the ATL says:


    As a general matter, it’s hard for individuals to go against their culture.

    True, but it happens. I, for example, am episcopalian but do not drink single malt scotch.

  75. 75
    Baud says:

    @Steve in the ATL: There’s individuality, and then there’s heresy.

  76. 76
    satby says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: “lovely red lace ensemble with strategic openings…”

  77. 77
    debbie says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    It’s not a literal analogy; it’s simply a general analogy. Also, she’s painting in the tradition of Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha, and many others.

  78. 78
    NotMax says:


    “Available in cinnamon or cherry flavor, and now new raunchy raspberry!”

  79. 79
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: On your ETA, No, those of us in construction (which is the only blue collar cohort I will speak for) aren’t some great monolith. There is a significant percentage of the stupid (gun loving, racist, gay bashing, wimmen hating, knee jerk stupid) but I am far from alone in my liberal politics.

  80. 80
    ThresherK says:

    @debbie: And now that memorial is recognised for the achievement it is. I’m sorta grateful the country got its collective act together about that. (Disclaimer: I registered for the draft way after that war.)

    The same for MO’s portrait happens, I hope.

  81. 81
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Baud: Black Panther and Black Lightning were just members of the first wave of headlining black comics superheroes in the 1960s-70s; there’s something of a cultural lag in the naming because these are old comics characters. But even then, it was never a 100% thing.

  82. 82
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Baud: Played by Anthony Mackie in the recent Marvel movies. Introduced in the movies in one of the best of the MCU movies, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

    In the comics, the first AA hero in the Big Two, introduced shortly after Black Panther.

    The “Black _______” pattern is something I associate more with DC than with Marvel (hence Black Lightning, a DC property). Marvel did it too, in the 1970s, but in the books I read it seemed mostly to be a way to differentiate between similar characters with related origins. (Goliath and Black Goliath operated as a team for a while.)

    Most of the ones Citizen Alan mentioned are 1980s characters, which was when the “Black _______” pattern started disappearing. That would be when Storm and Captain Marvel (Marvel) and Cyborg (DC) debuted. Some of the “Black _______” characters at Marvel retired, others took new names.

  83. 83
    clay says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: Falcon has been in at least three huge blockbuster films in the last five years. Not the marquee character, no, but very significant roles in Captain America 2 and 3, as well as Ant-Man.

  84. 84
    Baud says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Gotcha. Thanks for the explanation.


    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    And thanks to you too.

  85. 85
    Sab says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I am from a Management family and I am our first Democrat. My husband is a blue collar guy from a blue collar family. His father always told them ” You aren’t rich enough to be Republican.”

  86. 86
    Kay says:

    Betsy DeVos is filming a tv special to celebrate her one year in office:

    The unannounced visit is part of a larger pattern for DeVos, who has been criticized for keeping many public appearances off her calendar. Critics say keeping plans private diminishes public trust and accountability.
    When Chalkbeat learned about DeVos’ visit to Cold Spring Friday, we reached out to the school and to DeVos’ spokesperson to confirm the details and find out why she was here. Neither responded for more than 72 hours.
    On Monday, DeVos’ spokesperson Liz Hill emailed an explanation for the visit.
    “She was there filming for an upcoming TV special on innovation in education and her one-year anniversary in office,” Hill wrote. “It was closed press and not noticed to the public for that reason.”

    If tv stations run this Trump campaign propaganda they should lose their license.

  87. 87
    NotMax says:


    And let’s not get into White Lightning, able to induce world class hangovers on do-badders.


  88. 88

    Obama’s statement actually made me feel pain over the loss of what it felt like to have an intelligent, thoughtful president.

  89. 89
    evodevo says:

    @Jeff: Yes. obama’s is OK, but Michelle’s doesn’t look like her, nor does it give me an overall impression of what she really is …a really extraordinary woman …it looks like a portrait of someone wearing a dress from the Sixties with no hint of the person I saw over the 8 years they were in the public eye.

  90. 90
    Brachiator says:


    But FIS spokesperson Jenny Wiedeke insisted that while conditions were tough they were also safe. “We know it was very difficult conditions for the riders,” she said. “Each rider had two opportunities to perform their run. Nobody is forced to go down and compete.”

    That comment is bound to provoke anger from the riders, who could hardly have expected to have pulled out of an Olympic final. In total there were only nine clean runs out of 52 in total with riders falling, face-planting or pulling up because they couldn’t build enough speed.

    Do I detect a whiff of misogyny?

    There’s a strong stench of many bad things.

    What’s the point of insisting that all is well when participants obviously are having problems completing clean runs?

    The lack of support for the athletes is appalling. You would think they might have learned something from recent scandals.

  91. 91
    satby says:

    @NotMax: virtual high five 🙋

  92. 92
    clay says:

    @Kay: Incompetent. Cruel. Secretive. Demands to be celebrated for mediocrity.

    I’ll say this for Devos… she is the PERFECT Trump nominee.

  93. 93
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sab: Heh.

  94. 94
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Brachiator: They need a union.

  95. 95
    aimai says:

    @evodevo: I like that it reflects a very private, still, thoughtful person. Its the person underneath and behind the perfect form/perfectly chosen clothes, the all embracing always ready to engage mother. I like to think of it as the Michelle that Barack fell in love with–a striking, calm, majestic, dominant, presence who keeps her own counsel.

  96. 96
    Baud says:

    Who does this remind you of?

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte should be taken seriously, but not literally, his spokesman said on Tuesday, after the controversial leader drew criticism for saying he once ordered soldiers to shoot female Maoist insurgents in the genitals.

  97. 97
    Kay says:

    Feb 11
    In the Oval Office, Trump read a print-out of the Daily Mail story with incredulity… Trump said he was shocked that this clean-cut Harvard guy with the perfectly parted hair — “straight out of central casting” — could have violently attacked women.

    They’re just really shallow people. Easily impressed and very conventional. Well, one good thing came out of it. It’s now established fact that Kelly’s a liar too.

  98. 98
    Baud says:


    Trump read a print-out of the Daily Mail story with incredulity


  99. 99
    Brachiator says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes:

    This morning, I got one for a line of extremely erotic lingerie (not quite to fetish wear, but going that direction), that line being “liked” by two women of my professional acquaintance.

    Kinda funny, but also a case where the algorithm has slipped into the inappropriate territory. Is there an easy way to turn this off?

  100. 100
    NotMax says:


    Like bubbles. All surface.

  101. 101
    NotMax says:


    Unless he’s made a hire we don’t know about of a General Incredulity who helped him sound out the Words.

  102. 102
    Brachiator says:


    They need a union

    They don’t have one?

    Hmm. Do they have employers, or does that matter?

    But yeah.

  103. 103
    NotMax says:


    Saw that errant capital W just after pressing the button.

    A thousand pardons. Shall assuage my shame with a slice of chocolate sour cream cake baked the other day as a reward for mowing the whole property.

  104. 104
    danielx says:


    ‘He thinks Jesus tells him to say things’

    And if Jesus told him so, then it must be okay – ‘it’ being whatever thought passes through his diseased mind.

  105. 105
    Steve in the ATL says:


    Is there an easy way to turn this off?

    I believe that turning on is the point of erotic lingerie

  106. 106
  107. 107

    Thanks for the kind comments on my Hollywood Sign pic, here’s one in the other direction, DTLA.

    ETA: The thing in the sky between LA City Hall(the pointy building) and the tall buildings is the Goodyear blimp.

  108. 108
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Baud: Nice catch.

  109. 109
    TS says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    It looks like a fashion illustration to me.

    Which describes Michelle Obama – she illustrates her own fashion – no other FLOTUS has/had the style and the flair to wear it as did MO. The painting does this perfectly.

  110. 110
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: And in the comics, Falcon recently spent some time as Captain America (like Bucky Barnes before him). There are some opportunities there for when they can’t get Chris Evans any more.

  111. 111
    Kay says:

    I don’t know anything about art either- I might be actually bad at art- but I like the portraits for the reason AL said in the post- a big part of the Obama’s to me was there insistence that they would not be what people thought they should be.

    I think that’s part of WHY so many white people objected to them- because the ability to be what you are without apology is part of privilege. That’s where the charges of “arrogance” came from.

    Early in the primary campaign I read a New Yorker piece on Michelle Obama and she sort of wasn’t going along with the idea people might have a middle class Chicago black person. She was very much herself. I was impressed. I just got this powerful sense that she had spent her whole life having people say “you are THIS” and her saying “actually, no, I’m THIS”.

    There’s power in that and that’s why it’s reserved for people of privilege. Why wouldn’t Obama be the “leader” they all thought he should be? Because he’s not doing that. He’s going his own way. Trump feels entitled to this leeway- he is what he is and he doesn’t apologize, because he was born to it. The Obama’s insisted that they get it too.

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  113. 113
    maurinsky says:


    I had a similar thought – Michelle Obama radiates exuberant warmth and this color palette is so cool. I think it misses her energy.

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    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Yup. As an Old Marvelphile, I loved the cover of the issue where Sam quit.

  115. 115
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Most presidential portraits, even the “famous” ones, have a strong whiff of Sears Portrait Studio with a sidebar of Thomas Kinkade. They are not meant to inform, or to be a ‘true’ likeness of the president portrayed; they are meant to imitate/immortalize whatever the current power structure’s idea of Respectable Leadership looks like.

    They are supposed to be safe, not distract people, say nothing of the character of the figures portrayed, be non controversial so they can be hung in offices or used in advertisements for mattress sales in Feburary. In other words anti-art.

    And of course we have to look forward to the President Trump on black velvet.

  116. 116
    satby says:

    @JR: what the fuck was that?

  117. 117
    WaterGirl says:

    @NotMax: Being captured like that, he was probably infinitely grateful to be deported and not violently murdered.

  118. 118
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    hehe my one critic of the Obama portrait is wow they got his personality down pat, but the ivy background seems to done with another technique. But thinking it over I suspect the artist is saying Obama’s charisma is such that everything else around him seems less real lol

  119. 119
    WaterGirl says:

    @rikyrah: You guys are all making me want to see Black Panther. Will it make sense to someone like me who doesn’t know any backstory?

    I never picked up a comic book as a kid, but I have been enjoying The Flash, Agents of Shield, Black Lightning, etc on TV. Without the backstories I may be like a stupid person who watches a show and misses half the references, but I’m okay with that. You have to start somewhere. But I don’t know if the same thing would be true for the upcoming movie.

  120. 120
    WaterGirl says:

    @Schlemazel: How’s your eyesight? I ask because I need a stronger pair of glasses, so I don’t see the details in Michelle’s face, but without being able to see the detail I feel that the artist very much caught the grace and style and the arms of Michelle Obama.

  121. 121
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @NotMax: Pence does come across as just like as a more active Trump, but without the sex, charisma and a healthy does of Christian uncanny valley. As he is showing in the Winter Olympics Pence would try and fail at a lot of things I suspect.

  122. 122
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: So you started Black Lightning! Did you end up starting at the beginning? What do you think? I really like it.

  123. 123
    mai naem mobile says:

    @Jeff: that’s exactly the way i feel. The facial likeness.isn’t there.
    I would have liked the artists to troll a little. Maybe have Barack Obama hold a Kenyan passport with his extra long fingers, ,maybe with a Kenyan birth certificate sticking out. And Michelle really should have been holding a videotape or cd clearly labeled “Classified – Top Secret:Hate Whitey Tape.”

  124. 124
    WaterGirl says:

    @Kay: Seems like a good day to pull out an old favorite.

    What the fuck is wrong with these people????

  125. 125
    WaterGirl says:

    @Kay: At a Michelle ampaign event here in Champaign in early 2007, she had her hair pinned back in a plain bun and wore no make-up. She didn’t have time for that. She’s a very genuine person.

  126. 126
    Kay says:


    Well, if I understand it the whole thing of art is that it’s personal, so if they dislike the portraits the Obamas would certainly get that. That’s why we give artists kind of extra leeway- because it’s so brutal when people hate their stuff :)

  127. 127
    WaterGirl says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: With the lush background, I’m thinking it represents the lush places he grew up in that helped form who he is – lush as in greenery and also lush as in diversity.

  128. 128
    Kay says:


    I saw this film about Bob Dylan once. So everyone had an idea about him, what he represents, what his songs mean, and he sort of deliberately (and almost cruelly) rejected that.

    It’s an expression of self. “I am NOT yours”

    To thine own self be true could be the Obama family motto.

  129. 129
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @WaterGirl: Interesting, I supose it could be argues the change in lighting and detail shows Obama transcending and focusing that, but it is clear that background is no accident.

  130. 130
    clay says:


    You guys are all making me want to see Black Panther. Will it make sense to someone like me who doesn’t know any backstory?

    The Marvel movies all form a connected tapestry of sorts, but each entry is usually pretty self-contained with everything you need to know. Especially the ones that aren’t sequels, like this one. I think you’ll be fine.

    There isn’t much backstory for this movie, since it’s going to be introducing most of the characters and settings it uses. But here’s what you need to know: T’Challa (the lead character) first appeared on screen in Captain America: Civil War as the son of the king of Wakanda, a (fictional) African nation. Wakanda contains the world’s largest supply of vibranium, an ultra-rare and valuable metal. They’ve used this to make Wakanda the world’s richest and most technologically advanced nation.

    In Civil War, T’Challa’s father was assassinated, elevating him to the throne. T’Challa spent the remainder of that movie pursuing a revenge agenda, before realizing that revenge was not the same as justice, and was hollow. Civil War also introduced Martin Freeman’s character as a minor US government bureaucrat.

    The BP movie’s secondary antagonist, played by Andy Serkis, was introduced in a previous movie — Avengers: Age of Ultron. He was a smuggler who tried to get vibranium out of Wakanda. During the film (for unrelated reasons), he lost his arm.

    I think that’s about it. Enjoy!

  131. 131
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Citizen Alan: Also Deathlok the Demolisher (Luther Manning, before he became a cyborg), one of my favorite characters.

  132. 132
    Brachiator says:


    You guys are all making me want to see Black Panther. Will it make sense to someone like me who doesn’t know any backstory?

    I don’t know much about the back story. I don’t think it matters much, except to deep comic nerds. Some stuff in the trailers suggest there will be a little basic exposition for folks.

  133. 133
    Brachiator says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    Is there an easy way to turn this off?

    I believe that turning on is the point of erotic lingerie


    But usually it’s directed at a particular person, not a co-worker or the Internet.

    There’s probably a sitcom episode inspired by this, or soon will be.

  134. 134
    WaterGirl says:

    @clay: thank you so much!!

  135. 135
    Spinoza Is My Co-Pilot says:

    “Those Are A Couple of Very Fine Portraits”

    I don’t know, Barack’s is ok, but Michelle’s not so much. She’s a strong, brilliant, capable, accomplished black woman, and that dress does not do her justice, IMAO. Sleeveless is good, but then her arms are depicted as less muscular than they are (why do that?). And her distinctive jawline has been softened, not cool at all. Moving away from the typical Sears Portrait/Thomas Kinkade approach was a very good idea, I just don’t think it worked in Michelle’s case. Very small in the grand scheme, of course, but I think this was a swing and a miss.

  136. 136
    Sasha says:

    Like Kennedy’s (one of my faves), these are among the only portraits that are “art”.

  137. 137
    pluky says:

    If the portraits get people engaged; discussing the technique, the subjects, and the interaction betwixt the two; they have succeeded. Love it or hate it; ’tis better than to just dismiss it.

  138. 138
    pluky says:

    @balconesfault: So I’m not the only person in this thread to bust out laughing on this tweet. As to Dr. Prof. West — bless his heart.

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