A new mural on the side of a barn in Kirby, Vermont is turning heads.
"It's the Bernie barn!" exclaimed owner Meryl Lebowitz, who showed necn the supersized depiction of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who is running for President of the United States as a Democrat.
The mural shows a close-up view of Sanders, featuring his glasses and expressive eyes. "It just makes me happy to see him on our barn," Lebowitz said.
Lebowitz, an oil painter, and her sculptor husband, David Tanych, live part of the year in Vermont and part of the year in the Los Angeles area. They invited Venice, California-based muralist Jules Muck to work her spray paint magic on their property in late August. The work took about a day, the couple said, with Muck working off a photograph of Sanders she found online for inspiration.
"The side of the barn needed to be painted anyway," Tanych chuckled.
Lebowitz said she was thrilled to see how well Muck captured Sanders' energy. In the mural, he appears to be mid-speech, perhaps pondering a weighty issue.
"You can see the concern in his eyes, which is something I really like," Lebowitz said of Muck's work. "Bernie is clearly very concerned about the future of America. And I think [Muck is] great at capturing emotion in her portraits, which is a great quality in a portrait artist."
The barn mural may be one of the grassiest examples yet of the kind of grassroots support fueling the Sanders surge. His exuberant base is turning out in droves to rallies around the country, then spreading the Vermont Senator's core message that income inequality is a crisis that demands attention.
"There are so few who have too much and too many who don't have enough," Tanych said of the divide between the wealthiest Americans and most citizens, adding Sanders’ discussion of that issue is one of the main reasons he is attracted to him as a candidate.
Already in the Northeast Kingdom, the new mural is turning heads.
"You can't miss that hair," said Taylor Peyton, whom necn stopped as he drove past the barn Wednesday. "I'm not much of a Bernie supporter, but [the artwork is] a pretty cool thing."
Lebowitz said several people have joked that since any good political candidate needs a strong opponent, another barn located across the street from the "Bernie barn" should house a mural dedicated to Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for President currently leading in many polls. A neighbor of Tanych and Lebowitz told necn not to bet on that happening.
The artists said they hope Sanders continues picking up steam nationally, but even if he falls short of the White House, they promised he will still have a treasured place on their red barn.
"I think Bernie will always be an icon in Vermont," Lebowitz said, smiling. "The people of Vermont know Bernie. It's always going to be great to have a portrait of Bernie."
The couple said the new look to their barn has been a way to introduce Bernie Sanders via social media to their friends in California, who are far less familiar with him than his constituents in Vermont.
"My friends in L.A. love it," Tanych said of the mural. "I'd love for them to come see it!"