Presidents Day has come and gone, but I've been thinking more than usual about George Washington, especially after having given a reading at Washington College, in Chestertown, Maryland last Thursday. The first president was one of the founders of the school, and images of him turn up on every wall, around every corner, especially in the Brown Cottage, where the college put me up for the night.
It's hard not take Washington's image--which we come across many times in a day, on the dollar bill--for granted. By that I mean, it's a challenge to see any endlessly reproached image until it's been re-contextualized. That's not news of course, but I never realized till last weekend that Washington is always seen looking out the side of his face, rather than straight on. I'm sure that that must have something to do with the conventions of portraiture for the day, but who would the father of our country be for us if he were looking directly at the viewer, with a kind of frankness? Do such portraits of him exist?
I was wondering about all that as I stepped up into the school's Writer's House, which must be one of the finest writers' houses I've ever seen. I was so much in awe (the signed posters, the framed pictures of former visiting writers) that I didn't get the chance to take many pictures, but I did get this shot of the letterpress room, from the top of the stairs, in which this incredible broadside of my piece "Bunny" was made. Soon it will make it up on those walls of that house if it's not already there.