Curtis LeMieux

Artist’s Statement

Originally printed in 1961, The Golden Home and High School Encyclopedia was designed for frequent use. The paper is thick and durable and the volumes are rich with illustrations on a variety of subjects. Beginning with George Washington and ending with John Fitzgerald Kennedy, throughout the set there are entries on each former U.S. President. The entries include a shoddy reproduction of an official presidential portrait originally rendered in oil paint for each individual president. Richard Nixon also appears, via a black and white photograph, as a young politician who had served as a senator and vice-president at the time of publication. The works in the Presidential Portraits series were created upon the actual encyclopedia pages with the portraits serving as primary imagery. Enamel paint was applied directly to the page and built up in layers. The face of each individual remains untreated and isolated amidst a field of color and graphic details.

As an artist executing the series, the guiding principle behind my process was the idea that I embody the mindset of a high school student. My goal was to become like a half-awake adolescent who sits at his desk doodling while his history teacher delivers a lesson on a given president. The kid hears only a small portion of content with random thoughts and facts ending up on paper as stylized text and drawings. Chester A. Arthur is depicted as a mermaid. A distorted Richard Nixon displays his signature double-handed peace sign and James Monroe is shown with two women crudely drawn. The likeness of Grover Cleveland appears sunken by candy red enamel and a giant blue ball hovers over his head. Many of the presidents wear wigs. Andrew Johnson shares a composition with Lyndon B. Johnson. The former wears a bright yellow wig and LBJ wears a giant blue wig shaped like a papal hat.

Lets face it, political discourse is often degraded and conflict is commonplace. The Presidential Portraits series can be seen as an atypical demonstration of this fact.

Curt LeMieux’s artwork has been shown nationally and internationally and appears in several private collections. Exhibition venues and events include: The Berkeley Video and Film Festival, Berkeley, CA.; The Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA.; Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.; Machine Projects at The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA.; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA.; The Museum of Contemporary art in Minsk, Belarus; The Sixth Festival of International Images in Manizales, Colombia; and Luna International, Berlin, Germany. LeMieux received an M.F.A. in 2001 from Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA. He also holds an M.A. in studio art from the University of Wisconsin – Superior. LeMieux currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of eight books and chapbooks, including This Visit (Blazevox, 2015), How to be Another (Cervena Barva Press, 2014), and State of the Union (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2014). Her ninth book, Heisenberg’s Salon, is available now for pre-order from Blazevox. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, and Verse Daily.