Outgoing U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has never met painter Erin Crowe, but she is probably more familiar with the nuances of his face than nearly anyone else.
That's because Crowe has created 30 oil-on-canvas portraits of the financial world icon, who will retire as head of the U.S. central bank after an 18-year reign at the end of the month. She will unveil her works Thursday at a gallery in Manhattan's Soho district.
The show is fittingly called "Good-bye ... Greenspan."
Crowe told Reuters in an interview that she stumbled upon Greenspan as a subject when she did six paintings of him for a small art festival in her native Virginia which had the U.S. dollar sign as its festival theme.
"I was just fascinated with the way people reacted," the 25-year-old artist said. "Some of the people that bought the works were in banking, and this guy had been a formidable force in their lives for almost their whole careers."
Crowe decided to produce more Greenspan paintings to pay her tuition for art school. When those 18 works sold briskly, she wanted to create a final batch.
The paintings range in size from two inches to three inches up to five feet by six feet . The least expensive work was listed at $2,500, while the largest, titled "Greenspeak," had a price tag of $12,500.
Each work is basically a close-up of Greenspan's face, most displaying the familiar, pensive gaze known to millions who've watched his countless televised testimonies before various House and Senate committees.
But a few show the lighter side of the man who guided U.S. monetary policy for nearly two decades. One portrays him huffing on his eyeglasses, apparently just ahead of wiping them clean, and is titled "Hhhhhh." Another showing the 79-year-old enjoying a rare chuckle is simply called "Alan Laughing."
An 'elusive face'
"He has a very elusive face," said Crowe, who plans to attend another year at Goldsmiths School in London. "Some of these ones where he's resting on his face, that's the quintessential Greenspan to me.
"His expressions were always very complex," she added. "There were different shadows in his face that were really hard to capture."
Crowe said while she has yet to meet Greenspan, she has invited him to the show and wants to auction off one of the paintings and donate the proceeds to a charity of his choice.
The artist says she knew little about Greenspan the man before embarking on her paintings but after brush-stroking more than 50 pictures of him, she thinks she has some insight.
"He reminds me of that adorable uncle that you have that's sort of mean but also has an extreme sensitivity," she said.
"Sort of like a cutie pie," she said, beaming. "I sense that he's a good person from his face, and I don't know why and I could be completely wrong, but he just seems like a nice guy."