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President influences artist’s latest sculpture

President influences artist’s latest sculpture
Artists Jessica Destefano, left, and Nick Hernandez smooth out portions of the Obama head sculpture at the Democrat headquarters in Laguna Beach.
(DON LEACH, Coastline Pilot)

Laguna artist Nick Hernandez, who has sculpted several replicas of noteworthy figures such as Chelsea Clinton, is tapping politics for his latest inspiration — a sculpture of President Barack Obama.

"[Artists] have a rather prominent voice in Laguna Beach,” Hernandez said last week while working on the Obama sculpture at the Democrats’ local headquarters. “When I do work, it’s not about the amount of money. I think about making history. I think we’re going to produce a great piece here.”

Hernandez created the Obama sculpture in support of the Laguna Beach Democratic Club, where he serves on the board. Bronze casts of the sculpture will be raffled off at a benefit for the club on Election Day.

Hernandez has been working on the sculpture since August, and even a foot injury that same month didn’t stop him from moving forward with the piece. Rather, he enlisted the help of fellow artists Jessica Destefano and Richard Jones.


“It’s kind of like this synergistic process,” Hernandez said. “The more brains, the more eyes, the better a piece can come out.”

Hernandez also invited Jorg Dubin, Laguna Beach Artist of the Year, to paint a portrait of Obama for a live auction during the club’s fundraiser from 3 to 6 p.m. Sept. 29 at Mozambique, 1740 S. Coast Hwy. Cost is $65 per person in advance or $75 at the door.

Dubin’s piece adds some humor to the president. The artist included a Kenya pin on his jacket to poke fun at the issue of the president’s heritage.

Dubin said he rarely donates his work to auctions anymore, but contributed to Hernandez’s project because they had worked together in the past, and Dubin would have some control over how the auction would be run. He also said it would be a way for him to help out the club.


“A lot of times, if auctions aren’t run very well, it creates a situation that devalues my other work,” Dubin said. “I decided to donate to this auction, though, because I like the president. I don’t give money to any political cause but the one thing I do have to offer is my skills as a painter.”

Dubin said he believes art and politics have always mixed.

“Artists historically have always been part of some of the visualization of political or social movements, whether that was through serious representations or concepts that political parties stand for or through satire,” he said.

Hernandez said, although his piece is indeed political, he still just considers it as art.

“To me, it’s about the art,” Hernandez said. “I don’t see this as a political statement. It’s just another chance to possibly make history.”

Hernandez’s bronze casts of Obama’s head will be raffled off Nov. 6. at Laguna Beach Democratic Headquarters, 1401 S. Coast Hwy. Raffle tickets will cost $5 each or $20 for six tickets. Profits from the raffle will go toward the Laguna Beach Democratic Club.

Twitter: @coastlinepilot