When members of the D.C. Council realized that they were the subject of a suite of portraits on view at Hemphill Fine Arts, not all of them were thrilled. Those paintings—-part of a group show called “Artist-Citizen”—-are the work of Mingering Mike, a fantastical artist whose record-paintings were lost for decades before they were discovered by crate-digging DJ Dori Hadar. Mike’s turn to political portraits led one of his subjects, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, to say that she “may have to purchase this before someone else does.”
Regardless of how flattering the portraits are, today the Council will consider a ceremonial resolution to honor Mingering Mike for his contribution to the arts in the District. At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds, whose only criticism of Mingering Mike’s D.C. Council portraits was that he failed to capture Councilmember Alexander’s “wonderful smile,” will introduce the measure. Presuming the ceremonial resolution passes, Councilmember Bonds will preside over a reading to honor “the Soul Superstar you’ve never heard of” on the morning of July 10.
Mary Early, gallery director at Hemphill Fine Arts, says that she is “delighted.” This is the first time an artist from the gallery’s stable has been recognized by the city. “The D.C. Council honoring Mingering Mike with a ceremonial council resolution is the best recognition yet,” she says. “His work breathes Washington.”
What may be a great turn of events for Mingering Mike and Hemphill can also be a wonderful victory for all of D.C., if a way can be found to get those Council portraits into the Wilson Building itself. So far, D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities Curator and Art Collections Manager Zoma Wallace, who programs the Wilson Building art collection, hasn’t returned Washington City Paper‘s call about whether these portraits will get to hang in pride of place beside their elected counterparts.