‘Twas the Night Before President’s Day
And no one could grouse
As photog Anna Wilding unveiled photos captured
18 months hence at Obama’s White House.
Pictures of Michelle, & the Pres, were mounted with care,
with nary a nod towards MAGA or mention of Hamburders. Who’d dare?
Aside from the above, there was much to be said,
As all in attendance had much going on in their heads.
Yes, it was a night of cheese eating and picture perusing, but not necessarily in that order of import, (and also contrapuntally yet haplessly, cheese the color of the current president’s hair). All this, as American Citizens, actors, and artistic denizens the county over, descended upon The Perfect Exposure gallery in Alhambra from L.A. neighborhoods near and far, to witness actress/comedienne, director, writer, producer and photographer Anna Wilding’s most current collection: “Celebrate Hope: The Obama White House Collection.” Just in time for President’s Day and Black History month alike, the exhibit was unveiled not only in honor of our President past, but as an homage of hope for all future presidents, via the past perfect.
Black and white images, the pigment of all vintage pomp and circumstance, along with the most currently colored photo captures, beckoned bystanders and benefactors in kind, as Barack Obama could be witnessed orating, in stereo screen vision, at the United Nations. A classic snap of Michelle Obama, the privileged recipient of most attentive assistance from her husband-in-chief, graced the walls, to more candid appeal as the two made a majestic exit from Marine One only to perceived concern over the state of the First Lady’s flats. Expanding thence, from all future “Floor”ward concerns, was also a mounted depiction of a private picnic in the victory garden to which we all were made privy. Onwards and upwards from a tree-hugger’s political reverie to the Hugger in Chief’s hospitable convening, branching on out to all things rainbow-hued, one of the most enterprising and nostalgically provoking of pics encompassed that of President Obama signing the gay marriage bill, featuring a rainbow bracelet clad Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Boxer in bodacious blue democratic fancy buttressing the maneuver. And lest we forget, Boss of the U.S.A. alongside The Boss—who was born in the U.S.A.–as President Obama and Bruce Springsteen flanked one another in a unified union all the while celebrating the state of it!
All photographs, both public and never-before-seen, were part of a collection entitled “The People’s House” in “The Obama Collection”. Photos, previously unveiled to critical acclaim, have graced the pages of magazines and newspapers worldwide, all the while enjoying some screen time on The Jimmy Kimmel Show. Those, as yet, unveiled were surely a treat to behold!
“What a gem of an exhibit this is. Anna Wilding’s candid images of Michelle and Barack Obama are truly memorable – Especially the image entitled ‘Flirting’,” asserted Adrienne Barbeau (best known as Carol Traynor from the sitcom Maude) with a swoon.
“A great evening and a very impressive show. The photos are beautiful and really reveal the people who are the Obamas. Made me very nostalgic,” praised and lamented Mr. Belvedere’s most nurturing mom Ilene Graff.
“The President Obama Celebrate Hope exhibit is a salute to the human spirit, an inspiration to be the best that you can be,” declared Happy Days Potsie, and BoGoList.com Founder Anson Williams.
“I so enjoyed seeing the exclusive photographs of The People’s House at The Perfect Exposure Gallery. Anna [Wilding] has created an amazing collection. She makes you feel like you are viewing everything from the inside,” confirmed The Young and the Restless’ Kate Linder
“An interesting, candid, insightful look into the [daily] machinations of the White House & the First Family,” affirmed Alice Amter aka Raj’s mom of Big Bang Theory fame.
“Anna’s Obama Images make me think…I call it ‘OBAMA CLASSICISM’ after the great
“I wish he was back… I wish he was back…” lamented a maudlin Roslyn Kind.
According to The Young and the Restless star Kate Linder, “I do [miss this president] and I think these pictures are amazing. She did an incredible job. I was just talking to [the photographer] and she said she…followed him and took the pictures. It took her 18 months to do it!”
From a formerly young, and quite possibly restless, to now–older and astute—erstwhile child actor of Growing Pains fame, Jeremy Miller (aka Ben Seaver) had quite a bit to say to much interest and import: “Nostalgia doesn’t even cover it. I’m not trying to be an asshole. Sorry. It actually makes me miss a time when I could have respect for the person in the White House. It makes me miss a time when we had a first lady who wasn’t a porn star, and who could speak eloquently and passionately; with class and intelligence and… the same for our [current] president. I’m sorry. It saddens me. It makes me very nostalgic for a different time, Obama’s shortcomings as a president notwithstanding…because he had plenty, and things he didn’t get done… But [he was also a man with] so much class, so much grace, so brilliant, so much compassion, so much heart. That’s what I think of when I think of President [Obama], and I can’t apply any of those terms to what we’re currently going through. So, this is a really special exhibit to see…”
And special-and-beyond was pretty much the exact sentiment the “woman of the hour” Anna Wilding would impart as to the experience of taking said photos along with the pleasure of having them displayed commencing the night before President’s Day: “[Tonight has] been absolutely overwhelming. We had to turn a lot of people away because the venue’s not huge. But it was an excellent privilege, and an honor to work at the White House for those two years. People ask me if it was fun. It was actually really, really hard work. We’re dealing with major tragedies one moment, whether it’s the Paris attacks or a shooting, and then the next moment, you’re dealing with the former First Lady, Michelle Obama turning up with 500 kids to be Hugger in Chief. It was an honor and it was a privilege. This exhibition, I hope, reminds us of the dignity that we used to have in the White House. I’m going to try not to get too political here…I’ve already gotten myself into trouble [on a couple of occasions…] But I think…the hope [Mr. Obama] brought into the presidency is as important now as it was then. And I know that people have been very touched by the work and…it’s because we all hope that we can find our way as American citizens, even if we’re from overseas, to the heart and the empathy and the human spirit that used to occupy the White House. In fact, whether it was GOP or Democratic, one of my pictures is called, “When an Invitation wasn’t a Question” with Peyton Manning and Barack Obama; because it was the days when you received an invitation to the White House and you were honored to go. You didn’t have to decide if I should go or not.”
Speaking to that, Entertainment Counsel Dina Wiggins had this to say, “Until Trump, as the photographer was saying…it was always an honor to be invited to The White House. Whether you agreed politically with the Commander in Chief or not, you at least respected, that he respected the office of the President. And now, we do NOT have someone who respects the office of the president or the political system… “
In keeping with presidential and political respect, Wiggins could only add:
“[A few years ago] I had the opportunity to visit the West Wing on a private tour, while the Obamas were in the White House, which was a very special treat. They were actually not present that day…but…when you first step into the West Wing…on one side, [there is a] wall, [with] about twenty photographs of Obama meeting different dignitaries, and other people, and…my favorite moment was when… [the tour guide] said to me, ‘Can you guess which photograph on this wall is his favorite?’ So, I was scanning them and I saw the one where he’s bending over, and a little African American boy is rubbing his head. And I remembered the story…that that little boy got to meet him, and pointed at him, and said to his dad, ‘Hey Daddy, he has hair just like mine,’ and it was that moment when you realized just what hope he represented to so many people, like ‘I could be President, because he’s president and he looks like me!’ And that’s an amazing moment. So I guessed that it was that one and I was correct. That was Barack Obama’s favorite photo in the West Wing!”
“[Feeling nostalgic] yeah,” admits and optimistic Alison Arngrim. “But luckily he hasn’t gone far, and I understand that the Obamas are going to be doing stuff with Netflix and various TV Networks. I’m looking forward to that. I would be quite happy to be on that channel and say, ‘Oh look I’m working for the Obamas!’ That would be great fun!… [And as for]… the photos, I mean, it’s silly to say…but my God what bone structure that man has! …Wow, what a subject for the pictures…GORGEOUS!!! Just the life and the sort of happiness that they exuded, it’s really nice. I’m really enjoying it.”
Speaking to the timeliness pertaining to the “walled-in” week’s occurrences, Arngrim could only respond in a consistently enlightened fashion: “I know, everything is so down… I know people who swear they’re fans of the [current] president… [I’m like] ‘Oh well that’s great. But how?’ Because there’s not really any happiness. There’s not really any, ‘Okay we got our way. This is good.’ …I don’t get it. If it’s not going your way, you’re miserable, but then when you get your way, I’m not seeing the part where you’re happy and celebrating. I’m missing the happiness in this…”
A wife of a construction worker, Arngrim had other present-day presidential concerns:
“I guess the problem I’m having [with his bid to build the wall] is [that] of construction. There was a guy on the Internet the other day who works in construction. He’s an engineer, and he said, ‘Do you know how LONG it takes to build things?… [The] metal, and cement, and the permits? It takes this long, and [requires] this many people, and this many months, to build a structure of this size. Now you want it to be how high and how long?’ Well multiply that, and I think he worked it out so that it would take 41 years and six months! He’s like ‘This is like building the pyramids!’”
“40 years? It will take them hundreds of years to bring back Joshua Tree,” exclaimed Roslyn Kind echoing Arngrim’s most astute stats. And as to the governmental commandeering of land to build said wall could only declare, “How dare he…? How dare he? I heard somebody say that if they’re upset about giving their land that means they’re unpatriotic… Right. Why don’t you give one of your buildings?!?”
“I’m happy and sad is what I am,” conveyed Anson Williams at his reaction to the night’s photo fest. “My impression here is: Immediate joy, immediate good feelings [regarding] where we used to be, and the sadness of where we are, and the juxtaposition of Barack Obama and our current president…just [feel like] two different worlds. It’s literally two different countries. It’s cause and effect and I don’t like where we’re going. So hopefully exhibits like this will inspire and change and hopefully bring some clarity to be able to create the change instantly that we need…”
“Man, I am blown away with everything that I’m seeing on these walls. Blown away,” exclaimed an enthusiastic Ro Brooks of The Haves and Have Nots fame. “These pictures are so priceless, and I thank God for the photographer for taking these candid moments. This is history in the making. This is just fantabulous Man… I found so many great photos here… They take you to another place… We weren’t even there but I almost feel like I was in some of these photos… [Even] when they’re getting off of Marine One, I almost feel like I was next to get off of it… She has a picture on the other side of the wall, where Obama is up front with a lot of people behind him, it’s a Black and White. And all the people behind him she has in depth to field where it’s blurred out a little but you can still see ‘em clearly… But it’s so vivid! … I said in another interview I wish he could have run three terms… But they should allow presidents to serve more than two terms. What’s the reason that they can only serve 8 years? What’s the reason? If you could pass it on to your son, your nephews your family members, basically the same information is being given by someone in your family given by the prior president.”
“Ah, but we don’t want a monarchy,” the LA Beat could only opine.
“But it still happens when you serve 8 years then your son serves 8 years then your wife serves 8 years…” Brooks could only enthusiastically opine in regard to families going into the family business.
“Right, but I doubt we would feel that comfortable if a Trump supporter were saying that. And look what happened with it so far? George W was elected and then we got 9-11 and the second Iraq war. So – great. That’s not a guarantee…” editorial opinion voiced courtesy of the LA Beat.
Aaaah political banter… Political banter folks! As long as we’ve (still) got it, America is somehow great in perpetuity on some level… And the night involved both, along with camaraderie, the sort we only wish varying political parties and presidents could entertain (amongst each other and the people), via a conversation which was ironically not at all political between Mr. Belvedere mom Ilene Graf and Growing Pains younger brother Jeremy Miller (two most pivotal cast members from ostensibly rival sitcoms back in the day).
LA Beat-Growing Pains…Now that was your sister show.
Ilene: That was our sister show
‘Cause you had that same configuration of two boys and a girl.
Ilene: It was that same thing…
Jeremy: Same thing, everything…
Ilene: They were more successful than we were.
J: Noooo… Brice (aka Wesley from Mr. Belvedere) and I traveled all the time…Always, all the publicity events everything. It was always Brice, me Danny Pintauro, and Chad Allen. That was the four boys. Always together traveling!
I: They were such a nice group of kids. None of ‘em were stinkers!
J: We really did have a nice group of people [around us] we never got too nuts.
I: But you know what you all had…? You had good grown ups…
J: Good parents…and good people around us. We had you guys…
I: You had your TV Parents…
J: And they were. Those were our TV parents. They always kept an eye on us.
You know what’s so funny, is that when I watched your guys two shows, I was like, “I feel like these people probably get along…” Like you probably really got along…
J: We were very lucky with that. Having such a good camaraderie among so many of us and the different shows that were a part of that.
I: And what’s funny is… I don’t know how it is with your group but I still, with my TV children, I still pull the parent card sometimes…
I: It’s like if I need something I say, “B. I need you to do this.” – “Okay…”
J: Until three weeks before he passed away, I had gotten a phone call from Alan [Thicke]…Any time anything was going on, any time he needed something, which was rare that he ever needed something from me… Anything I might need to call him for: Advice, for a problem/issue – [I would always call him] immediately. I actually did it last year. I had a little project that I got, and I wanted to get his advice and I actually reached for the phone and started dialing…and [I’m like] wait. I can’t.
I: Yeah, it’s hard to lose them. It really is. When Christopher [Hewitt aka Mr. Belvedere] died…[it was hard]
J: It leaves a hole. It really does…
I: When you’re together so much…
J: They’re like a second family.
…~sigh~ and so goes the reality show that was really real on and off the show…
All in all, a night of sentimental celebrating looking forward in the present, across the wall to the illustrious photos, all the while, looking upward with hope. Combining some staunch good sense with unflagging optimism, Anson Williams said it best in only the most astutely political Anson Williams-y way he knew how:
“You know, history repeats itself for a reason and it’s cause and effect, and honestly everything eventually will straighten out. But it could be sooner than later, and do we have to destroy so many lives in the meantime? No. Do we have to be in such a painful position? No. It will eventually straighten out, but it’s going to take a while…”
The Exhibit runs from President’s Day through Saint Patrick’s Day: Monday, February 18 through Sunday, March 17, 2019.
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For more information on the illustrious work of Anna Wilding, please visit: