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Vermont Artists Address Valentines to the White House

State of the Arts


Some mothers get a bit testy when their child first brings home a new partner. Not Vermont artist Callie Thompson, her daughter Eli’s “sweetheart,” her adoration is obvious. “She is an unending source of great ideas,” says Robinson of the young poet and visual artist. “Every idea she’s ever had is just brilliant.”

Robinson is especially enthusiastic about Thompson’s latest brainstorm: a Facebook group called “Love Letters to Obama.” Troubled by what she calls “the same unempowering, unhelpful cycle of complaining” that has always plagued leaders of the free world, Thompson decided to take action. As Robinson puts it, “She believes, like I do, that Obama is really an exceptional man. If we encouraged him, it would help him get his groove back.”

Austin, Tex.-based Thompson put out a call to artists to send the president a Valentine by February 14. Robinson headed to her computer and started designing on Photoshop. When Seven Days spoke to her last week, she had already sent Obama three heart-covered missives using a hodgepodge of antique archival cards, personal photos and images of the president.

Robinson quickly got other Vermont artists to share the love, including Waterbury gallerist and artist Axel Stohlberg, poet and painter Michael David Jewell, former NO!art doyenne Harriet Wood (yep, the 73-year-old is on Facebook), sculptor Lochlin Smith and his wife Marietta Rhyne, and painter and cartoonist Robert Waldo Brunelle Jr.

Anne Majusiak, former manager of the late Frog Hollow Gallery in Middlebury, packed six snowballs in heart shapes, cradled them in tree branches and snapped a photo she sent to Obama. Maggie Neale, best known for her dyed silks, produced perhaps the most avant-garde Valentine. Her roughly heart-shaped card is cracked and torn and painted with splashes of red and pink. It reads, “HOPE/ HEART/ HEALING/ in mending the cracks/in country capital confidence.”

Of the 210 members of the group (as of press time), one may prove particularly helpful — a White House staffer who prefers to be known simply as Adam. Robinson says she’s counting on him to tell the president about the efforts and affection of a group of artists who wish him the best this Valentine’s Day.

Want to send the president a Valentine? Click here for “Love Letters to Obama”.