Portrait of Pope Francis by Juan Manuel Delgado. This photograph is courtesy of Juan Manuel Delgado and a Vatican photographer

A LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

Dear President Obama,

I’m writing to recommend Mr. Juan Manuel Delgado – a young artist from Costa Rica — as eminently qualified to paint your official portrait representing you as the 44th President of the United States.  After researching Juan Manuel’s portrait of Pope Francis for my online magazine artcopyblog.com, I concluded that his style was appropriate for a monumental portrait of an American president who has unequivocally changed the country and the world for the better.   The artist’s portrait of Pope Francis exemplifies his ability to capture not only a likeness but also an individual personality.

The photograph is courtesy of Juan Manuel Delgado and a photographer for the Vatican
This photograph is courtesy of Juan Delgado.

Mr. President, you uplifted cynical generations on June 3rd, 2008 in your persuasive speech as the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee.  In so many elegant words, you said that change wouldn’t be easy, but it could be done.

Those words will be remembered for generations:

if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.  This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. 

In truth, your presidency has revealed that there is more work to do to protect human dignity for every soul than most imagined at the time. Nevertheless, you defied considerable opposition and set far-ranging and lasting reform in motion, and have forever transformed the way that many of us see our communities.

Juan Manuel’s experience with and reverence for Pope Francis also speaks to the dreams of another humble optimist who is guaranteed nothing but presses forward anyway.  His aspiration to paint and present Pope Francis with a portrait were not without real barriers, but he proceeded with faith and gratitude.  Some miracles happened along the way.

This photograph is courtesy of Juan Miguel Delgado and a photographer for the Vatican.
This photograph is courtesy of Juan Miguel Delgado.

As Shephard Fairey’s posters galvanized a hopeful nation on the verge of electing a great President, Juan Manuel would represent the likeness and personality of one of the most beloved Presidents in American history.

"Hope" by Shepard Fairey. This picture is courtesy of The Smithsonian Institute. Barack Obama as presumptive nominee
“Hope” by Shepard Fairey. This picture is courtesy of The Smithsonian Institute.

As Pete Souza has captured thousands of irresistible glimpses of a charismatic first family that make us smile and reflect,  Juan Manuel’s style would bring grace and quiet drama to a transformational American Presidency.

This photograph of President Obama was taken by White House photographer Pete Souza and is courtesy of petapixel.com
This photograph of President Obama was taken by White House photographer Pete Souza and is courtesy of petapixel.com
This photograph is courtesy of www.whitehouse.gov. This Official White House Photo was taken by Chuck Kennedy
This photograph is courtesy of www.whitehouse.gov. This Official White House Photo is by Chuck Kennedy

In my online article, I argued that Juan Manuel’s portrayal of Pope Francis is evidence of his awareness of his place in art history, as well as his ability to portray monumental people who transcend time.

When Juan Manuel was in Rome to meet and present His Holiness with the portrait that he painted, he received an e-mail from the Post Office in his home country of Costa Rica who had seen press coverage of the event and wanted to include a picture of the artist’s portrait on a special issue stamp.  These symbols of the exchange of love between His Holiness and the humble artist allow everyday people to hold a piece of this sacred embrace.

This photograph is courtesy of Juan Manuel Delgado and was taken by a Vatican photographer.
This photography is courtesy of Juan Manuel Delgado.

Mr. President, you’ve lived up to your promises.  I suspect that many Americans would like to be able to buy a stamp symbolizing the moment when the world changed, much as the people of Costa Rica wanted to share in Pope Francis’s embrace with the humble dreamer.  For these reasons, I hope you’ll consider Juan Manuel Delgado to paint your official portrait as President of the United States while capturing your transformational personality and a disarming historical legacy.

Warm regards,

Brenda Haroutunian

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