Nope, it’s not Obama.
Looks like the U.S. President, doesn’t it? But it’s a 1962 Barker Fairley portrait of Zalman Yanovsky* before he became a rock star with The Lovin’ Spoonful, and much, much before he opened his “Chez Piggy” restaurant in Kingston, Ontario. Zal was also “done” by Cynthia Plaster Caster which was probably more fun than sitting for Fairley.
I got the book from the library for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to see if two particular paintings were in there. One day, while visiting the home of John and Ruth Colombo, I was thrilled to see that Fairley had done portraits of both Ruth and John. There they were, hanging on the wall! Not in the book, though. Perhaps some day the Colombos will let me photograph their originals and show them here.
Now, John doesn’t really like the picture Fairley did of him, so it is to his credit that he didn’t hide that one away, out of sight. No, he’s a bigger man than that, and, if I may guess, accepts the painting as another artist’s vision, worthy of respect.
Barker Fairley certainly has my respect. I like his paintings a lot and find it a wonder that he doesn’t get more attention. His approach seems to me to share much with that of U.S. artist Milton Avery, not in colour, but in form, simplicity and flatness. (Danica bought a large Milton Avery print, The Red Fisherman, because she likes Avery, too.)
Barker Farley’s reputation as a painter may have been eclipsed by his academic career as a Goethe scholar. Art historians really don’t like painters who are good at more than one thing, do they?
*Spelled Yanofsky” in the Fairley book