Last month I was asked me to participate in WAT-AAH!‘s “Take Back the Streets” exhibit at the New Museum along with 12 other artists like Kenny Scharf, Shepard Fairey, and Swoon. WAT-AAH! water was started by former ad exec Rose Cameron with the intent to get kids to drink more water in school so, with input from her two young boys, they launched 5 years ago. They have partnered with the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign in the past and at some point it became clear Mrs. Obama might bcome to New York to tour the exhibit. Rose asked me to create a mural that could be painted with kids (and possibly Mrs. Obama) so that’s what I did along with the help of the amazing WAT-AAH! staff. Yesterday, the kids from The Little Red Schoolhouse in New York came to the New Museum where I had the 8 x 16′ painting set up. My assistant Amy Paschall and I gave the kids a few lessons, I talked about my work (while a huge bank of cameras and media looked on) and then the kids took turns painting sections of the piece. They were great – NOT your typical 8th graders. Mrs. Obama was give a tour of the exhibit by Rose and then she made her way down to the theater where we were all waiting. She was just as gorgeous, charming, relaxed and fun as you see in pictures and on TV. She talked to the kids for a bit about health issues, what they were studying in school and then said, “I heard you want me to sign this.” I was hanging back up, until this point but I scooted in and told her. “Lower left.” She said, “Where?” and without really thinking I said, “How low can you go?” She turned and shot me the smile you see in the last shot here. We took some pictures with the kids in front of the painting, she gave each one a hug (I got one too) – then she said, “Come on. You and me.” Right. Just me and the First Lady. After pictures together, we chatted for a sec about the mural traveling to DC next month, I thanked her and then she was off to a fund-raiser luncheon and then uptown to do The Tonight Show. Needless to say, the whole thing was a HUGE thrill. The purpose is great, to call attention to kids drinking more water, but it’s not a bad idea for adults either. Drink more water. Drink up! You can see a short video of her signing it here.
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