Last year, between getting laid off of a punishing corporate job at Yahoo! and my wife giving birth to my first child, my good friend Ted invited me to participate in the From Dusk til Drawn fundraiser at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Barbara. Basically, it involved drawing for 24 straight hours. At that point in my life – i.e. before children – sleep deprivation was a novelty. It sounded insane. I was in.
The last thing I wanted was to be struggling for ideas of something to draw at four in the morning. I needed to do a series, I thought. So after some debate, I decided to do portraits of all 47 vice presidents of the United States. Why? I don’t know. I’ve always had a strange affinity to the executive branch’s number two guy. As Vice President Charles Dawes, who presided under Calvin Coolidge, once complained, "I can do only two things here. One of them is to sit up here on this rostrum [in the Senate] and listen to you birds talk without the ability to reply. The other is to look at the newspapers every morning to see how the President's health is."
The Constitution is vague on the veep. Though the position bestows on it all of the authority and pomp of the U.S. Government, vice presidents throughout history have struggled to find purpose in a poorly defined role, all the while waiting for death. It’s a bit like life itself. A few, through ambition, talent and a lot of luck, ascended to the top job. Most moldered in obscurity. I added the octopuses because I thought they were funny. It takes a rare person to pull off an air of dignity with a cephalopod on his head.
During the event, fueled by a combination of coffee, alcohol, tacos and patriotic zeal, I ended up cranked out 22 portraits during the full 24 hours. During the course of the night, I discovered that people really seemed drawn to the pictures. I sold 7 and I had friends who were asking for their own copies. Somehow I had stumbled on something.
So I resolved to complete the set. What I plan to post here over the next few months is the fruits of that crazy scheme. I hope you enjoy.