14 of Detroit's visions of Obama

Photos by Camilo Jose Vergara
Scroll down to view images
14 of Detroit's visions of Obama
Camilo Jose Vergara
1 of 15
In his piece in "The Nation" today, Camilo Jose Vergara notes that the murals decorating inner-city businesses trade upon "symbols, motifs, and iconic figures to remind people of their roots and aspirations." A case in point would be this portrait of Obama he photographed in 2009 at Frank Tires #1, 4270 E. Seven Mile Rd., Detroit. The mural was painted by an artists known as "Ron."
Camilo Jose Vergara
In his piece in "The Nation" today, Camilo Jose Vergara notes that the murals decorating inner-city businesses trade upon "symbols, motifs, and iconic figures to remind people of their roots and aspirations." A case in point would be this portrait of Obama he photographed in 2009 at Frank Tires #1, 4270 E. Seven Mile Rd., Detroit. The mural was painted by an artists known as "Ron."
2 of 15
This very professional depiction of Obama was found in 2010 at MVP Bar and Grill, Grand River at Fernwood, Detroit.
Camilo Jose Vergara
This very professional depiction of Obama was found in 2010 at MVP Bar and Grill, Grand River at Fernwood, Detroit.
3 of 15
Vergara notes that " Obama is frequently depicted as a powerful man of action," For example, look at this mural of the president that appeared in 2010 on Gratiot Avenue near the Fisher Freeway. The artist, known as "Bird," surrounded Obama with a white burst that suggests an electric magnetism.
Camilo Jose Vergara
Vergara notes that " Obama is frequently depicted as a powerful man of action," For example, look at this mural of the president that appeared in 2010 on Gratiot Avenue near the Fisher Freeway. The artist, known as "Bird," surrounded Obama with a white burst that suggests an electric magnetism.
4 of 15
Vergara shot this image in 2014. It appeared on a wall next to a party store at Robson and Fenkell on Detroit's west side. It localizes the national leader with the inclusion of a local landmark.
Camilo Jose Vergara
Vergara shot this image in 2014. It appeared on a wall next to a party store at Robson and Fenkell on Detroit's west side. It localizes the national leader with the inclusion of a local landmark.
5 of 15
In his article today, Vergara notes that " Folk portraits of [Obama] express pride that a black person was able to achieve the presidency, something few believed possible. He is often accompanied by such symbols of American power as ... the American flag." Here, Obama is all but wrapped in the banner, in a piece Vergara found in 2012, painted onto a sign at East Forest and Van Dyke in Detroit.
Camilo Jose Vergara
In his article today, Vergara notes that " Folk portraits of [Obama] express pride that a black person was able to achieve the presidency, something few believed possible. He is often accompanied by such symbols of American power as ... the American flag." Here, Obama is all but wrapped in the banner, in a piece Vergara found in 2012, painted onto a sign at East Forest and Van Dyke in Detroit.
6 of 15
Vergara spotted this piece, which appears at Elmwood and East Forest in Detroit. While the message is quick and cryptic, Vergara notes that " When portrayed in the company of others, he most frequently appears with his wife Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and Jesus Christ." The latter would seem to apply in this case.
Camilo Jose Vergara
Vergara spotted this piece, which appears at Elmwood and East Forest in Detroit. While the message is quick and cryptic, Vergara notes that " When portrayed in the company of others, he most frequently appears with his wife Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and Jesus Christ." The latter would seem to apply in this case.
7 of 15
Or more to the point, here is a Detroit mural depicting Obama and MLK Jr. that Vergara shot in 2015. Vergara says it was painted by Lee Walker, aka "Bird." The work appears on Hamburg Street at East Seven Mile Road.
Camilo Jose Vergara
Or more to the point, here is a Detroit mural depicting Obama and MLK Jr. that Vergara shot in 2015. Vergara says it was painted by Lee Walker, aka "Bird." The work appears on Hamburg Street at East Seven Mile Road.
8 of 15
Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ both join Obama in this mural at West Montana Street and Woodward Avenue in Highland Park. Vergara shot it in 2009, and a local artist told him the mural was about "three powerful men, three men that changed the world."
Camilo Jose Vergara
Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ both join Obama in this mural at West Montana Street and Woodward Avenue in Highland Park. Vergara shot it in 2009, and a local artist told him the mural was about "three powerful men, three men that changed the world."
9 of 15
Naturally, Vergara captured the briefly famous Obama gas station at Wyoming at Plymouth in 2009.
Camilo Jose Vergara
Naturally, Vergara captured the briefly famous Obama gas station at Wyoming at Plymouth in 2009.
10 of 15
Vergara photographed this image in 2010. It's artwork on the side of the former Mugshot Bar & Grill at 17305 Harper Ave., Detroit. As Vergara noted years ago, "When painted by African-American artists, Obama’s tie is often red, his jacket blue, and his shirt white, this combination echoing the American flag that is often also incorporated."
Camilo Jose Vergara
Vergara photographed this image in 2010. It's artwork on the side of the former Mugshot Bar & Grill at 17305 Harper Ave., Detroit. As Vergara noted years ago, "When painted by African-American artists, Obama’s tie is often red, his jacket blue, and his shirt white, this combination echoing the American flag that is often also incorporated."
11 of 15
A&J Tires has featured a poster of President Obama on the facade since 2009. Vergara shot it in 2014.
Camilo Jose Vergara
A&J Tires has featured a poster of President Obama on the facade since 2009. Vergara shot it in 2014.
12 of 15
Here is the same tire shop in 2015.
Camilo Jose Vergara
Here is the same tire shop in 2015.
13 of 15
Vergara shot this mural by Sam Phillips in 2013. It graces the wall of the Fair Party Store at 6541 Gratiot Ave., Detroit. It depicts Barack and Michelle Obama protected by an eagle, another motif Vergara has found across the country.
Camilo Jose Vergara
Vergara shot this mural by Sam Phillips in 2013. It graces the wall of the Fair Party Store at 6541 Gratiot Ave., Detroit. It depicts Barack and Michelle Obama protected by an eagle, another motif Vergara has found across the country.
14 of 15
Vergara found this mural a few years ago. It adorns the Jumpstart Learning Center at West Chicago and Birwood. Mrs. Lockhard, the center’s director, explained, “We love Obama here.” The mural was commissioned for $150 from a folk artist living in Oak Park.
Camilo Jose Vergara
Vergara found this mural a few years ago. It adorns the Jumpstart Learning Center at West Chicago and Birwood. Mrs. Lockhard, the center’s director, explained, “We love Obama here.” The mural was commissioned for $150 from a folk artist living in Oak Park.
15 of 15