or Dean Davison
Barkley & Evergreen Public Relations
(Independence, Mo.) - Did you know that John Adams liked to skinny dip in the Potomac? That Andrew Jackson killed a man in a duel for insulting his wife? That Ronald Reagan was the first modern President to consult an astrologer?
These and other anecdotes from history highlight an unusual exhibit, "Virtual Election," on display March 18 through June 17 at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo.
Arizona artist Tina Mion's eclectic collection of paintings draws inspiration from a Smithsonian deck of presidential playing cards. She has painted 52 portraits, one for each of the 42 U.S. Presidents, plus other famous Americans from the Smithsonian's bridge deck. Rather than painting a typical historical portrait, Mion incorporates some aspect of the figure's life or career, using different styles to capture the flavor of the era.
For example, a perky '50s housewife holds up an "I Like Ike" towel. Eisenhower was the first candidate to specifically target women voters, with such campaign materials as buckets, mops and stockings. Jimmy Carter appears in a stained-glass window portrait with a Habitat for Humanity trowel.
Mion came up with the idea for the collection when she and some fellow artists started a "Sunday Painters" group. Each would produce a painting a week for one year. Mion brought the Smithsonian deck to one gathering, so they could play cards. That's when the idea hit her.
"There are 52 Sundays in a year, and there are 52 cards in the deck. And the portraits are taken from the National Portrait Gallery, which I grew up going to. I'd had other ideas of re-creating the National Portrait Gallery, so it fed right into this idea," said Mion.
As visitors leave the show, they vote for their favorite portrait. Results will be posted during the course of the exhibition.
The Truman Library and Museum is located at U.S. Highway 24 and Delaware in Independence, Mo. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a. m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6 to 18, and free for children 5 years and under.
The Harry S. Truman Library is one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.