Monday, January 16, 2012

one thing perfectly clear

A stop in Yorba Linda, CA to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.  From his actual birthplace home (built from a kit by his father) to the presidential helicopter, the museum was much more than I expected. I guess I was expecting a huge focus on the Watergate scandal and President Nixon's resignation. In fact, that was covered but so was the rest of this man's long life and political history.

At one point in the museum, I sat on a '60's era sofa in a '60's era living room set and watched the Kennedy-Nixon debates on a small screen black and white television. That's when I pulled out my sketchbook and did this drawing.

While I was drawing, I thought about how I wanted to make an accurate drawing of the man, not a caricature of a political figure. I resisted drawing his hairline as receded, his nose as a ski jump, and his eyes as shifty. I just drew the youngish man I saw on the television. A man who held his own and held his temper in the debates with John F. Kennedy (who didn't look movie-star handsome to me).

Bronze sculpture by Robert Berks, 1999
Maybe you'd like to see a sampling of the debates, when debates were unfancy and unglamorous and all about issues.


Casey Klahn said...

...and the famous five o'clock shadow!

Very well blogged.

Dewberry Fine Art said...

All so very true. Nixon Kennedy debates was the beginning of seeing our politicians as bigger than life. Timing could not have been worse for Nixon as the country fell for the charm of camelot. Nixon had quite a roller coaster ride in the political arena.
So glad you got to see it.

Carolyn Rondthaler said...

Very interesting, Katherine. I have always had a problem with Nixon. My mother worked for Helen Gehagan-Douglas (sp?) and Mom claimed that Nixon organized a hate complain against her. As I mature, I feel that he was just a man who did what the times required and then was humiliated when that turned against him. I would actually love to see that museum. I am so old I remember the Kennedy/Nixon debate! I think his time was past before they began.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Thanks for the comments! My sketchbook is getting a workout this trip. What fun!