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Willard Dixon
An oil painting of a middle-aged African American man in a black t-shirt and pants, with a brown ballcap on and wearing a pair of baby blue gloves. The gloves, and part of his shirt and pants are covered in paints of various colors.

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Finalist

Mike
Collection of the artist

My portrait of Mike Henderson is part of a group of paintings of Bay Area artists and friends I did over a period of about three years. Mike is an accomplished painter and blues musician, having toured and recorded with his own band. I play the saxophone and have played with him in a few different contexts, one of which was the Studio 13 Band, a longstanding group out of the San Francisco Art Institute. I was inspired to paint him in this pose, which he spontaneously assumed in his studio after donning the blue gloves in which he paints. Mike has many brightly colored walls in his home, which gave me the idea for the yellow background. I feel that the near-life-size figure conveys a sense of the artist’s spirit, his gravity, and strong physical presence.