tv American Artifacts Off the Record Bar Political Cartoons CSPAN April 7, 2018 9:15am-9:41am EDT
recently traveled to norman, oklahoma to learn about its rich history. learn more at www.c-span.org /citiestour. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. , american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums and historic sites around the country. the historic hay-adams hotel is just across lafayette square from the white house. its bar, off the record, is decorated with a correction of political cartoons and is featured in the journal of the white house association. even the coasters are updated with current political characters. we spoke with vice president and general manager and a politico cartoonist about the artwork on display.
>> the hotel was built in 1928 on the site of the residents of ce of john hay and henry adams. in 1926, the wardman who was the developer built this hotel and another hotel which is now the saint regis. the hotel has been in existence since 1928. this bar has been in existence since the 1960's or 1970's. in 1999, this bar was already known as off the record, a place to be seen but not heard. it was not in this color and format and layout. it is kind of like the speakeasy. a place that has become very popular over the years. the decorations are political cartoons that are displayed from
various artists. we do keep some of the original artworks in the house. from what i know is that the previous ownership in the 1980's and the 1990's decided to bring in some artwork after having a few beers over at the bar and in the bar. that is how it really established. we have built on this because we are using local artists and plus pulitzer prize-winning artists in order to continue the tradition of rotating political art. >> my understanding is this goes back to about 2000. they redid the bar here at the hotel and they went with this classic washington cigar smoking den. ink then, you could smoke
bars in washington. they redid it with the wing bench chairs and the dark burgundy walls. somebody had the brainstorm that they wanted to have the cartoons for art. the original collection was on from an artist who collected cartoons and donated his 30,000 cartoon collection to the library of congress. he made an arrangement with the hotel to loan them a bunch of classic caricatures from this collection. since then, i got involved in 2008 thanks to my buddy richard thompson, when they wanted to update the caricatures to stuff that was more current. the collection mostly went back to the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. and then there was a big gap. people were coming to the bar and the newer clients did not recognize the people from the nixon and reagan administration. they wanted people from the clinton and obama administration.
that is when richard thompson, who unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago, was brought in. richard was just an astounding caricaturist. caricaturist at the time. he did a lot of stuff for new york news and the new yorker. richard came in with a portfolio . i came in with a pile and i filled in the most recent political figures. i work as a caricaturist and a political cartoonist. political cartoonists use word bubbles. when i'm wearing my political cartoonist hat, i'm really a political commentator, just like somebody who is writing a column in the op-ed pages.
i have the advantage of drying awing my opinion. i ideally express it with a certain amount of humor and columnists have to rely on using their words. the old thought about pictures being worth a thousand words is quite true. someone who writes an 800 word essay about tax policies or something has to rely on a reader who is willing to invest five minutes to read those 800 words. but the magic of the political cartoon is that you glance at a cartoon. humans have a visual acuity. we pick up stuff fast. we recognize a face, a setting, a metaphor, a pun and you can do pick up a cartoon quickly. we have a certain advantage. there are some people that think political cartooning is going as a sort- going away
of archaic form of political expression. i feel it's just the opposite. i think political cartoons are appealing toward social media. caricaturists are a little bit different. they do not have the advantage of using word bubbles and captions. it is purely a visual thing. you're not expressing a complicated political expression, you are just trying to capture a character. a good caricaturist can load that up with other stuff. in a political opinion, maybe there is detail or there is some commentary in the settings, or the clothings of the caricature. i learned this just recently after working as a caricaturist. comes fromricature to load, asword for
in a boat, a cart or a gun. a caricature, it is not a portrait, you are not just china trying to capture the physical attributes. you are loading that portrait with a certain edgy humor and commentary. if you do it right, you capture more than just the attributes of somebody. i was very lucky in that as a young man i grew up in los angeles. when i was in high school and first interested in cartooning, i got to meet paul conrad, who was a giant in the field. three-time pulitzer prize winner for the l.a. times. he was most proud of the fact that he was the only cartoonist list.ade nixon's enemies he opened the door to me that this is a viable career path, which is sort of an unclear path. he was very encouraging and inspiring. i started out in my teens and 20's and i was look around.
- i would look around . i love the work of pat at the washington post. david levine, who is probably, i don't know what is the right word. he was pivotal in very influential in the world of caricature. you still see it in my work somewhat. some of these other works like signedonderful -- he lowe, but his name was ed vaultman. he did the big bubblehead in the little body and then the twist with a little detail that was put in there. levine look like a lot of other cartoons. that is when i fell in love with it. the bar is a wonderful
collection of cartoons. it spans a lot of decades. it goes back to another one of the political cartooning, kepler for -- i think it was a publisher. this was back in the golden age of political cartooning. kepler would do these beautiful lithographs that would be two page spreads. if you remember your american history books, there is a wonderful standard oil cartoons of the oil tank with the tentacles of the octopus representing rockefeller reaching out. to call it a cartoon is almost putting it down. it was a real work of art. it was like an oil painting. there are a couple of kepler's here from puff magazine. those are probably the oldest ones at the bar. then, these from ed and ron covington would be the next ones.
the vaultman cartoons are almost all from the reagan area. people were failing to recognize people like that. i have bartenders that come in, or the new help will come in and go, we will go around and help. they are constantly being asked who are these people. they say that's bob dole .ppear you don't remember bob dole? shrug and say i don't know bob dole. this wall is a mismatch of different cartoons. this is richard thompson.
that is me. these are colors that are interesting in comparison to the ones that are around the fireplace. these are watercolor images. these were done in the 1970's. richard thompson's style is, as a cartoonist i look at this and it has just a beautiful combination of loose line. he was influenced by cartoonist s but took it to his own place. i aspired to this. but i'm still working at it. this is one i did of the caricature of bernie sanders. you can see the difference. i add watercolor. richard's approach was a classic sort of dip pen. he works in a style that have fitit in -- would in perfectly in the 19th century. it is very, very modern. this is another richard thompson. you could see the difference. little lines, little black and white lines that go back to the
wood engraving of the thomas era. richard's style here, you will see that the rendering is done with watercolor. he lets the paint render the shapes. there is a paul ryan that i did. a dick cheney and a carl rove. this wall gets a lot of attention when i come in to the bar and i am sitting around. usually people, as it are -- they are leaving, they will stop. he gets a lot of attention. here is a shameless self-promotion thing that i did for politico back in the beginning. one of our reporters did a piece about odd couples in washington. people you would not expect
sitting together getting a drink at a bar. this is when i started doing stuff with hay-adams. i situated them in this bar for this one. this was a cover illustration for politico when ron was chief of staff of the white house for obama. i was far too nice to mitch mcconnell in this one, but sometimes that happens. here is the biden, also one of mine. it couple more richard thompson's, laura bush. just lovely and sophisticated. it looks so simple, but the sophistication and the color scheme and the painting of richard's stuff is annoying and wonderful. up in the corner, that is our trump that kevin draws for the economist. a twitter bird on her shoulder. -- his shoulder. a fabulous piece of color art. probably 75% of the walls are straight caricatures.
there are a number of real political cartoons here as well. this particular corner has got one by me and one by kevin. this is something he did for the economist and this is one i did for politico. you can tell the difference. we have word bubbles and captions. there is a lot more information being conveyed, which is really what we are all about. kevin's is a lovely example of a good political cartoon built around a clever visual metaphor. in this case, it is the boxing readi ring and it is israel and palestine going at it and obama ref and it is round
3,487,000. fs, bush,he old rep clinton, reagan and bush again, they are all beat up. it is an example of how he could take a very confiscated -- complicated political issue and if you're doing a good political cartoon you can still it down to a nice visual that conveys the complexities quickly. hopefully with a little bit of bite. this is a cartoon i did. naturally, they liked it here because they are next-door. all the money they were spending on the campaign, i should not date my cartoons, but i believe this is from 2008. resistance is futile and there y are blasting the democrats with piles of cash. i understand he likes this cartoon, which fills me with mixed emotions. these two are the oldest ones in the bar and really represent
kind of the golden age of american political cartooning. which you would have found in puff magazine. it was a political cartoon magazine. they are colored lithographs. i wish i knew the details of the politics at the time. here, you have a classic political cartoon trope. the big interest being held done wn on the speaker and it says, the caption down here is very small. the leader of the minority cannot get the speaker's eye because it is under the thumb of the big interest. this of course is uncle sam. uncle sam being a creation of political cartoonists. i believe most people credit thomas nash with really creating the uncle sam that the rest of us recognize and cartoonists utilize all the time.
this is the actual lithographic print. the nice thing about the wonderful golden age of editorial cartooning is it gives cartoonists lots of space. we get shrunk down more like that when we are in print. back to my optimistic graph on cartooning, this is perhaps some of the best color printing, especially at the time, and to this play a -- display a political cartoon. in 2018, cartoonists are working in a digital realm. our biggest audience are now on smartphones, ipads and displays let us do all sorts of elegant watercolors. it begins the rival the kind of cartooning you could do on the scale that kevlar got to do. in some ways, we are getting back to this kind of cartooning.
these two cartoons or by anhui n, who draws for the washington post on the digital side and political cartoons that are often animated gifs. she won a pulitzer prize back in 2000 for her political cartoons. she has moved on to animation. i think these were studies that ann did around the inauguration of obama. she has a different style. she actually went to cal arts and is a trained animator. you can see it in her very strong line style. it really stands out. now works in watercolor as well. hay-adams has a special place in washington. the first time i came in the bar
was probably 17 years ago. a friend of mine brought me down here and you could still smoke in bars in washington. this was a smoking bar. this was a cigar bar. we came in on a cold winter night. i had just loved to washington from the west coast and was fascinated by the culture of the city. you walked in here and there was this inversion layer of cigar smoke and all of the people just -- these people dressed up in suits were sitting around having conversations. it was right out of a cartoon. this is the den of iniquity that you imagine being in the basement right around the white house. within that, this is the cave, there is one booth in the back you can close off. there is really no place like it in washington. a few years ago, providing besides providing cartoons to decorate the walls, he had the idea of doing coasters. they commissioned original art
for these and ann and myself every six months or so will design little caricature cartoons of people who are in the news and hand them out to people. it is an interesting exercise in american politics because certain caricatures -- like this, this is hillary clinton. you know she is not going anywhere. some of the other characters that we'd draw, you are not sure if they will be in the news. for instance, sean spicer was an obvious one. unfortunately, we did not do it on a coaster because he came and went. and scaramucci and the like. we situate the politicos in bar the bar doing various things. we usually add little details. like this is cal's caricature.
pence is drinking with a beer stein that looks remarkably like donald trump. little touches like this. this is my hillary one leaving the hotel and she is caring the desk carrying -- she is carrying the luggage. you get the joke. these are more cartoons from the art collection done by ron covington back in the 1980's. he is a little bit related to the david levine caricature but he took it is on direction. it is very like cross catching in here with a lot of grayscale. they caricature is a very -- they are beautifully done. caricature is a very strange thing. when you're trying to caricature somebody, you exaggerate features and then there are
limits to the exaggerations. some caricatures go to the very edge. this is a wonderful, extremely exaggerated, pushing of the forms. it is just wonderful. here is senator byrd in west virginia. jerry brown. it is always fascinating when you also work with people. sometimes, i talk to art students and do workshops on caricature. it is amazing how you don't always have to be so rendered in detail. it is true of probably all political figures. it can become a simple iconic thing. george bush and barack obama, i could draw six lines and people would go, well, that's george bush or there is barack obama. once you outline the face, even before you complete it, people
can tell what you are drawing. it is a mystical thing. our facial recognition software in our brains is very acute. it is one of the things that caricaturists can use to their advantage. it takes a little effort to be nonpartisan when you are doing things for the coasters and stuff. my instinct and what i am paid for is my opinion and i express it strongly. same with ann and cal. we get to dial it back. just thatnd it is not we don't want to unnecessarily rile people and they come in for a drink at the bars. one of the nice things about the bar -- frankly, i have learned about the culture of washington , there is this word called comedy where you figure out how
to get along with people and you could sit down and have a drink with them. that is the spirit of the bar and the spirit we all bring to the coasters. we will suspend our political opinions and say that for our -- save that for our political cartoons. in this case, we will have lighthearted fun with the caricatures and the coasters. sunday on 1968, america in turmoil, liberal politics. greatk back to lbj's society and liberal activists redefining the role of the federal government and challenging traditional values. our guests -- the 1968 election and the politics of division. turmoil68, america in
"n c-span's "washington journal and on american history tv on c-span3. >> the university of oklahoma is home to the carl albert center. we will learn more about this former speaker of the house and see collections from other oklahoma commerce meant. >> today, we are at the carl albert research center at the university of oklahoma. the center was founded in 1979 by ron peters. peters thought we have this powerful member of congress, we need to do something at the university to memorialize his ideals about congress, about legislating, about governing. collections of60 members of congress and 20 political