Local artist meets First Lady

Artist Shizu Saldamando, whose work is currently displayed at the Vincent Price Art Museum, was among the artistic elite who attended the White House Historical Association Arts Reception this past June.

The reception involved many prominent figures from the American art scene. It was meant to show the importance of art and about nurturing the White House collection.The invite only event was not something Saldamando was expecting to be doing over the summer.

“At first, I didn’t think I could go considering all the deadlines with planning the catalog, the exhibition itself and then, on top of that, working on a commission for the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority),

“I didn’t know if I should view it as a big deal or not, since I come from a pretty leftist family and they always sort of hate who ever is in government, and never really trusted anyone who would be in the White House, no matter what,” Saldamando said.

Saldamando had too much to consider before making her decision to attend the event.

“I called my dad and told him about it and asked him what he thought about it,” Saldamando said.

To Saldamando’s surprises her father was excited for her to go to Washington, D.C. so the only problem was finding a way to get there. She had to miss work and find a way to afford the trip.

“My boyfriend was extremely busy as well, being in the middle of this huge motorcycle build, but he was willing to drop everything and go too,” Saldamando said.

Saldamando thought an opportunity like this would never happen again, so she decided that maybe she should go.

The realization of just how important and prestigious this honor was did not set in until Saldamando was actually there ready to enter the reception.

With so much on her mind, questioning her trip to the White House and how everything would work out, the prestige of the event did not set in until she was in line waiting to get into the event. The concerns of everything going on around her clouded the purpose of her visit.

“Standing in the security line to get in was the first sort of realization of what a huge deal this was. The title of the reception was American Arts, so I started to recognize various artists that I had studied about in line with me,” Saldamando said.

The first lady Michelle Obama thanked the artist. She told the story of Barack Obama and her first date being to a museum.

“(Michelle Obama) met everyone and took pictures and we all mingled and even though there were numerous signs saying ‘no pictures.’ I still took a few on my phone,

“I was geeking out at all the presidential portraits, since of course portraits are my favorite thing ever. I couldn’t resist taking pics of those,” Saldamando said.

Being able to be around the art community from around the United States helped to make her experience great. She gained so much from being able to be around the art elite.

“All-in-all I had an amazing time and am so glad I went,” Saldamando said.

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