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The History Behind The Grand Ol Gang Painting

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The Grand Ol Gang is a painting depicting past presidents interacting as though they lived in the same time period.  The artist of the Grand Ol Gang, Andy Thomas, is widely known for his realistic paintings of famous political figures.  The setting is intriguing, and the characters are nice representations of some of the former presidents in this bright, lighthearted painting.

The title itself directs the thoughts to politics as it is remarkably similar to the term Grand Ol' Party.  This nickname has long been used to reference the Republican party, or the GOP.  The background of the painting intensifies this allusion with its political bandstand in the distance and the red, white, and blue banners that grace its sides.  As the eye travels to the foreground of the painting, the room that the men occupy comes into focus.  It has large glass windows that cover the wall behind them and allow for viewing of the grandstand.  The room they occupy appears to be just large enough for the group to gather around a poker table and enjoy a cozy game of cards. 

Though this artist is known for realism in his work, there is a touch of caricature in the faces of these past presidents.  Transcending the time barrier, presidents from the same party beginning from the civil war era are seated at a table together engaging in a friendly game of poker.  The president closest to the front of the scene is Abraham Lincoln.  He is seated with his back to the viewer so that only a slight semblance can be seen.  The black suit jacket and black, bushy hair are the most obvious marks that it is he who is seated in that place.  Gerald Ford is seated to the right of this great, historic figure.  Following around the table are Richard Nixon and Teddy Roosevelt.  At the backside of the table, Dwight Eisenhower is pictured, but unlike the others, he and his neighbor, George H.W. Bush are standing.  Continuing around the table sits Ronald Reagan with his big, friendly smile looking, as it seems, past Abe's shoulder and directly at the viewer of the Grand Ol Gang.  Seated to his right, George W. Bush completes the gathering.  From the expressions on all of their faces, there appears to be much merrymaking going on at this game.  An ambiance of jovial camaraderie is given off by the skillful way the artist creates the setting and incorporates the various characters into it.  The cares and strains that hounded them while in office seem to be distant memories of yesteryear.  In fact, it looks like the viewer has stepped into a moment of time where Abe has just told his table-mates a joke.  This “joke” comes from the president that carried, perhaps, the biggest burden of United States history.  It is interesting to note that only a select few of the eighteen Republican presidents were chosen for the Grand Ol Gang.  The reason for this is left to viewer interpretation. 

At first glance, the Grand Ol Gang is simply a lighthearted representation of some past presidents playing a hand of poker.  After closer examination, it appears there is a little more to this painting than first meets the eye.  As wonderful artwork does, this painting leaves much for the viewer to contemplate.


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