When it was all over, Escalante didn't give the photos a second thought: "I just forgot about them." he states. The painted portrait that came out of experience was everything that Escalante expected and more. Escalante, who feels strongly that Swihart is one of today's greatest painters, knew that Swihart had a reputation for producing flawless, mesmerizing portraits, and that is exactly what he got.
Since the appearance of that first "selfie" Swihart has created well over 150 more images, placing Escalante in iconic photos, in the presence of celebrities and disasters, and has also inserted him into famous works of art. After an intense day in the painting studio, Swihart says that photoshopping the selfies are a way of "unwinding." Escalante agrees: "For Jon, making one of these is like smoking a cigarette." Many of the images have the flavor of time travel, including one that Escalante particularly savors: "The one with Dali and Frida Kahlo is my favorite," he explains, "I wish that had happened."
Escalante is a very good sport -- he doesn't mind being the center of all these jokes -- and in the process he has become the "Zelig" of Instagram, with time travel as his reward.
Instagram Selfies and Other (In)Famous Oil Portraits by Jon Swihart
Curated by Wendy Sherman
GREGORIO ESCALANTE GALLERY
978 Chung King Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012