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Mona Lisa of the Federal Reserve

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Painter Erin Crowe, 25, bids farewell to the eighteen-year reign of Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, who is retiring at the end of the month, with a show at the Broome Street Gallery. She spoke to Carol Vinzant about her show, consisting of 35 portraits of him.

Why Greenspan?
I had painter’s block like some people have writer’s block.

Are you obsessed with the Fed?
To be honest, not really. I love to look at him. I don’t understand a lot of what he says. That’s not what interests me about him.

Which is what?
Originally for me it posed an interesting challenge to make paintings. Every time I saw his photo, I saw that it would be a challenge. I’d look at the way his mouth was contorted or look at the way his forehead was wrinkled.

Who’s buying them?
Bankers and hedge-fund people, mostly. There’s a woman who’s a dental hygienist.

What draws them to the work?
When you’re younger, you want a poster of, like, a pop idol in your dorm room; to have an oil painting of someone you might equally adore in more adult terms is somehow socially acceptable. The people that buy it generally do love him. One guy said, I want one where it looks like he’s yelling at Hillary Clinton. A lot of them went into offices.

How much are they?
The biggest will go for $12,500. The smaller ones are $3,000 to $6,000. They’re sized for your office. The very, very small ones are, like, $800. I was just trying to hit all my price points.

Do you worry that now that he’s retiring, the value of these paintings will fall?
I don’t worry about that. Greenspan is retiring, and I am retiring my painting of him. No one else is going to have the opportunity to buy a six-foot-by-four-foot Greenspan.


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