First we published some whimsical drawings of United States presidents—a collaboration between the artist Jason Novak and his eighteen-month-old daughter Gertie. Then a reader complained—”I would hate to think any of my donations were going to pay anybody’s salaries for this”—and now, on our Facebook page, the Mr. Novak has weighed in:
Though it might pain some of your subscribers to know this, I am a Yankee going back 16 generations (17 for my daughter). My father’s last name was Herrick, and the first Herrick to set foot on what would become American soil landed at Plymouth in 1629. That said, many Herricks died in Virginia at the hands of Virginians during the Civil War, and now constitute a small portion of Virginia soil. As a teenager, I was an avid Civil War buff and went to many reenactments. My first uniform was the blue trim grey wool shell jacket of the Army of Northern Virginia and I wore it with the respect it deserved because it was a part of this country’s history, for better or worse. I’ve visited Virginia on many occasions, have family and friends there, and as an aspiring journalist have received many rejection letters from the Virginia Quarterly Review. I’ve never myself lived in Virginia, but I did live in South Carolina years ago and so have more than a fanciful acquaintance with Southern life. I can understand why my daughter’s drawings might seem frivolous, but if you look closely, my hope is that you’ll recognize that I took great pains to turn her marks into fair likenesses of our nation’s Presidents, Virginians included. I wish y’all the best!
Thanks for your note, Mr. Novak, and the same to you.
IMAGE: Zachary Taylor by Jason and Gertie Novak (TheRumpus.net)