RENAISSANCE MEN  11:10 am June 30, 2010

How Did Al Franken Become ‘America’s Artist-Senator’?

by Lauri Apple

Yesterday Sen. Al Franken drew “the portrait blogged around the world” when he pencilled a little sketch of Alabama Senator/Grand Wizard Jeff Sessions during the Elena Kagan confirmation hearing. (He also napped, but you can’t auction that off at Sotheby’s.) Everybody seems to agree that Franken has mad drawing skills. Where on earth did they come from?

Many people would say “God” or “genes,” but these are totally wrong answers. Franken’s artistic prowess actually developed soon after a chance encounter in the early 1980s with fellow Minnesotan and artist Prince, who told him to purify himself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka. Franken complied, and soon afterward began drawing his way into America’s hearts. He did this mainly by making maps of the U.S. from memory while telling joke stories that were almost always funnier than almost anything that Garrison Keillor has ever done. In fact, he’s map-made pretty much everywhere he’s traveled, from the show formerly known as Late Night with David Letterman to the Minnesota State Fair to the historic “Al Franken Celebrates Denim” fund-raiser and fashion party.

Franken’s also created the iconic work “Minnesota With Scribbles”, which hangs in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s satellite gallery in Duluth (it’s inside a gas station off I-35). And now we have evidence of his forays into the portrait arts. What can’t he draw?

If Franken ever wants to parlay all his drawing talent into a bona fide art career, following these steps might help:

  • Enhance his drawings with color. Mr. Sketch markers are “fun,” smell like delicious foods, and will do the job for cheap.
  • Send his drawings to Ken Layne, who edits an online political arts journal called Wonketts. He’ll publish anybody’s art! This writer should know.
  • Wait for the cash to start rolling in.
  • You Wonketteers who harbor artistic aspirations might also try out this advice, but it’s not recommended. [Fox]

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    MarieDeGournay June 30, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Al Franken: a senator that can actually do something.

    Baldar T Flagass June 30, 2010 at 11:15 am

    I’m so jealous. I couldn’t ever even draw that fucking Winky off the matchbook cover.

    Joshua Norton June 30, 2010 at 11:19 am

    If it isn’t a Blingee it sucks.

    JMP June 30, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I avoided the temptation to look at the Fox comments earlier; why did I succumb here? Apparently ACORN and George Soros stole the Senate election for Franken.

    Geogre June 30, 2010 at 11:20 am

    He wasn’t drawing Jeff Sessions.

    That was a map. He was looking for the place where the sippy straw had been inserted and the soul and brains had been sucked out.

    ManchuCandidate June 30, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Al Franken’s Far Side

    actor212 June 30, 2010 at 11:26 am

    The Duluth Whitney is the second most prestigious art museum in Duluth, MN, after Farmer Brown’s Cow Flop Sculpture Museum & Trailer Park

    actor212 June 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

    And I give FOX begrudging credit for not posting “Senator Stuart Smalley” cracks with this story.

    Joshua Norton June 30, 2010 at 11:29 am

    They don’t call Duluth the “Paris of the Midwest” for nothing.

    JMP June 30, 2010 at 11:33 am

    [re=609314]actor212[/re]: For not doing so? The first sentence begins with “He’s good enough, he’s smart enough and doggone it”.

    WhatTheHeck June 30, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Al doesn’t know Powerpoint.

    Oblios Cap June 30, 2010 at 11:39 am

    “Send your dope to me, Al Franken, and I’ll test it for paraquat.”

    Al’s the only member of Senate who isn’t a blithering idiot. That august body is proof that money and brains tend to be mutually exclusive.

    JackDempsey June 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Franken got his career started as the “deus ex machina” for the Magic Drawing Board on the Captain Kangaroo show. True story.
    Oops, forgot to say, “spoiler alert.”

    Jim89048 June 30, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Anyone who can get the reich-wing all frothy at the mouth like Al can is OK in my book.

    just pixels June 30, 2010 at 11:45 am

    The real talent is to sleep on the job. I’ve been trying to perfect that for years, but to no avail. The phone rings, the boss starts yelling, the drool pools in my lap. It’s always something.

    Quatchi June 30, 2010 at 11:47 am

    @Joshua Norton: Actually Duluth is known as “the San Francisco of the Midwest”. This is due to its fog, steep hills and busy port, not for queers and hippies (although there plenty of those too).

    Oblios Cap June 30, 2010 at 11:49 am

    As Floridian, I am appalled that Al drew America’s Dingus too small on his Frankenmap.


    Joshua Norton June 30, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Actually Duluth is known as “the San Francisco of the Midwest”.

    And San Francisco, oddly enough, is called the “Paris of the West”. But not for any reason that is immediately obvious to me. Except maybe blatant boosterism.

    hoosiermama June 30, 2010 at 11:51 am

    If the senator thing doesn’t pan out, Franken can be a courtroom sketch artist in France.

    Gorillionaire June 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

    I re-read “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Fucking Retarded Drug Addled Idiot” recently and it is still good.

    WHAT? June 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    [re=609331]Oblios Cap[/re]: Dorothy Parker “If you want to see how God feels about money just look at the people he gives it to”

    actor212 June 30, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I see yet another Senator doing infomercials in the near future, a la Fred Thompson.

    Al Franken – Paid Spokesman for the Art Instruction Schools of America.

    TGY June 30, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Al Franken is, himself, a gift unto humankind. When the Miserable Annals of the Earth are written, he shall be duly enshrined.

    “Al Franken, the onetime comedian and current Democratic senator from Minnesota”

    ‘Onetime’? Again, these things are not temporally exclusive.

    Ducksworthy June 30, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I especially enjoyed Al’s discourse yesterday (or maybe some other day) on the role of the Supreme Court with regard to the rights of individuals versus the rights of corporations. If any of the Rethugs understood what he was saying they would have been made even crazier. Also the theme of a long article in Sunday’s New York Times on judicial restraint. A characteristic all the Rethugs are ranting about but which is in very short supply on today’s activist court. Who knew that judicial restraint is a progressive concept. But which, alas like patriotism and loyalty, has been usurped and twisted into meaning its antonym by the right.

    Zadig June 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    [re=609304]Geogre[/re]: I’m less curious about where it was inserted and more curious about who drank it.

    [re=609347]Oblios Cap[/re]: He’s just using his art to hold up the mirror to reality. America’s getting fatter and fatter, and soon it will be unable to even find its humiliating dingus.

    TGY June 30, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    [re=609387]Zadig[/re]: Oh, a *funhouse* mirror.

    An American in Toronto June 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I STILL really miss the old “Al Franken Show” on Air America. I miss hearing about “sexy, sexy David Sirota” and singing along to Jonathan Alter’s theme song that included the line, “He had Can-cerrrrrr.” But all in all, I’m glad he’s where he is and Randi Rhodes is…not.

    I_KILL_ZOMBIES_ALSO June 30, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    [re=609340]just pixels[/re]: I just close my office door.

    Geogre June 30, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    [re=609374]WHAT?[/re]: Nat Hentoff, in Whatever It Is, I’m Against It, attributes that quote to Maurice Barring.

    Not as famous as Dot Parker.

    Geogre June 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    [re=609387]Zadig[/re]: Drank it?

    They don’t swallow: they spit. What use have they for souls or brains: they’re the Republican Party, USA!

    An Outhouse June 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Al Franken learned to draw by watching commies on PBS.

    GOPCrusher June 30, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Al? That’s not Lake Minnetonka.

    El Pinche June 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    My acrylic painting of John Cornyrn bows to anything Lauri Apple does. I’ll spare the shame, thank you!

    El Pinche June 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    [re=609470]An Outhouse[/re]: Those happy little tree huggers

    Oblios Cap June 30, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    [re=609351]Joshua Norton[/re]:

    It’s America’s “City of Light (in the loafers)”.

    katrina June 30, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    The clippage of Al “napping” over at Fuxnooz clearly shows him looking down, and looking up and blinking twice in the less than 30 seconds they show.
    Of course, their commenters are Big, Fat Idiots.
    After his speech at the American Constitution Society National Convention, I would LITERALLY do anything for Al. LITERALLY.

    TGY June 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    [re=609560]katrina[/re]: In re: American Constitution Society speech. Yes.

    Johnny Zhivago June 30, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    [re=609345]Quatchi[/re]: Hmmm – I’d like to nominate Newark as the Duluth of the Northeast.

    The Unfairman June 30, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    [re=609311]actor212[/re]: Actually, Duluth has a fairly well respected museum of art at the University of Minnesota Duluth called The Tweed.

    Furthermore, Northern Minnesota is known for its forests, timber and mining industries, and not for its farming. Also, Duluth is the furthest inland port to the Atlantic Ocean in North America. So it would be more appropriate to say “Lumberjack Anderson’s Chainsaw Sculpture Museum & Iron Ore Shanty Town”.

    I mean, if you’re going to throw random slurs around, at least make the accurate.

    Freedom McAwesomePants June 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    [re=609351]Joshua Norton[/re]: you know, Pensacola is often called the Bakersfield of the Gulf Coast… we make Niceville look like Warner Robins.

    Stalkin' June 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    [re=609785]Freedom McAwesomePants[/re]: I thought Pensacola was “The Belt Buckle of the Redneck Riviera.” Anyway, they’re all just interchangeable components of the red, white, and blue vinyl-clad off-ramp and foreclosure boneyard we like to call Real ‘Murca, also.

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