The family of a tragic Cork artist hope to present a piece of his work to US President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama touches down in Ireland on May 23rd, but while he may not be visiting Cork this time around, the family of a Cork artist, one of the President's biggest fans, are hoping to present him with a very special gift.
Painter Kieran McGonnell, 43, died in January of this year after a freak accident left him in a coma for almost three months. The Cork native, who had lived in the US for twenty years, suffered a fall outside his Chicago home, hitting his head on the concrete and resulting in a traumatic brain injury. He passed away in hospice care on January 11th.
Now Kieran's heartbroken family and friends are hoping to present President Obama with a piece of the artist's work. Speaking of his brother’s admiration for the US President, Kieran's brother Aidan McGonnell told the Cork News, "He knew of the plans for Obama’s visit to Ireland and it’s something he definitely approved of. He was a big fan. Given what had happened under Bush he saw Obama as being very progressive."
Kieran McGonnell was born in Cork and went to school in CBC before taking a science degree at the Cork Institute of Technology. He had spent the years before the tragedy honing his craft in New York and was three blocks from the World Trade Centre at an art gallery opening on September 11th. He and his partner, Gregg Dribben, soon became disenchanted with the Big Apple and moved to Chicago, where friends say Kieran found fresh landscapes to paint and enjoyed the Midwestern light.
Aidan was a fan of all of his brother’s creations, but when asked to choose some favourites, he remembers two particularly fondly. “He worked on a beautiful series called Symbolic Logic which I bought for my daughter's birthday. I was also very fond of his architecture pieces, which were truly fantastic works of art.”
The Warhol influence in his portraits of presidents, including Lincoln, Van Gogh and President Obama ensured they were a hit among fans. "His admiration for Obama was evident in the fact that he painted him." Aidan continued. "Now we’re hoping to get his work into Obama’s hands when he visits. It won’t be easy, but we’re hoping to raise his profile enough to make it possible."
“Right now we’re just trying to adjust to the loss. It’s not been easy. But we want to make Kieran’s work available."
For more information on the art of Kieran McGonnell, search 'Kieran McGonnell Fine Art on Facebook page or contact Aidan McGonnell by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.