By Terry Miller
A painting by a French artist, Pascal Mpeck entitled “Yes We Can” was unveiled last Thursday at Pasadena’s Central Library.
At a standing room only event, hundreds of city officials and members of the public gathered to witness local historical perspective and the connection Barack Obama has to the city of Pasadena.
“Today’s dedication unveiling is in some respect an extension of telling the story of the important black history in America — truly and American history,” Vice Mayor John Kennedy said in one of several rather long speeches prior to the painting’s unveiling.
Reaction was mixed to the work created by the French artist. The painting is touted as a ‘progressive montage’ between African and American heritage and the Black struggle.
The painting is located at Pasadena Central Library in the Ria C. Humanities Wing.
One local activist and local television host, Ralph Walker, was struck by the similarity to which the art bears with the mural at The First AME in Los Angeles. While the concept is similar, the realistic -almost photographic-like quality – is perhaps more defined in Mpeck’s work.
Additionally, Walker felt Malcolm X was portrayed in an unflattering stance.
Like all art, Walker said interpretation “interpretation is subjective…”
The historical significance of Rosa Parks, Malcomb X and Frederick Douglass with Barack H. Obama, the 44th United States President, in the foreground is the foundation of the story Mpeck is trying to convey in this work.