Schwartz's gallery of POTUS cartoons.
Schwartz's gallery of POTUS cartoons. (Howard Schwartz)

The collection, so far with 23 images and three more in the framing stage, is joined with caricatures of winners even beyond the years covered in cartoons.

Howard Schwartz enjoys the humor of political cartoons, has amassed a collection of original drawings to characterize presidential campaigns and decided to put them on view. Although he intended to display the drawings in a gallery at the time of a national election, the pandemic changed his plans.

Like so many others with artistic interests, Schwartz has turned to a digital platform. The cartoons, kept on view in his home, have been copied and are showcased on a new website, potustoons.com.

The collection, so far with 23 images and three more in the framing stage, is joined with caricatures of winners even beyond the years covered in cartoons.

Howard and Robin Schwartz
Howard and Robin Schwartz Howard Schwartz

“I intend to have all the elections eventually represented,” said Schwartz, who has a commercial real estate business in Farmington Hills. “I look at them every day because they’re in my house.

“I wanted to share them with the public because they become so topical in an election year. Not everyone will have an appreciation for some of the points of view artists may portray, but they have to do with historical and political interests.”

Schwartz, who describes himself as a fiscal conservative and social liberal, traces his personal commitments to parental examples of a broader scope. He has voted early in this year’s election but does not want to disclose his ballot.

Schwartz’s cartoon collecting started in the 1980s when he was living in New York. While looking through an art gallery, Schwartz noticed a drawing depicting candidates in the George H.W. Bush/Michael Dukakis campaign and bought it.

“I got to meet the artist, Timothy Patrick Moynihan (a.k.a. Gus Murphy), the son of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and four years later, I commissioned another drawing,” Schwartz said. “Again, four years later, I commissioned another drawing and kept those commissions going.”

Roosevelt V Parker 1904
Roosevelt vs. Parker, 1904, cartoon by Victor Juhasz Howard Schwartz

After the artist died, Schwartz’s collection froze until finding other artists — Victor Juhasz of upstate New York, Michael Edholm of Iowa and Thomas Fluharty of South Dakota. Schwartz wanted each image to tell the story without captions even as some images show people in addition to candidates.

“The flavor of the conveyance of information is done in the viewer’s mind,” Schwartz explained about the focus on images. “The expression of the artist speaks to the feeling the viewer gets when appreciating what the artist is trying to convey. Bush and Dukakis, for example, are shown in a pretty tough fight, and that conveys the spirit of the election.”

Classic Battles

Among the cartoons are those capturing Dwight Eisenhower versus Adlai Stevenson, Lyndon Johnson versus Barry Goldwater and Andrew Jackson versus John Quincy Adams.
A favorite among many favorites in his collection pits Richard Nixon against John Kennedy in debate.

“I lived through that election as a little boy, and the Nixon era was impressionable,” Schwartz explained. “The artist shows Kennedy at the lectern with Richard Nixon hanging upside down in a Dracula suit. Nixon [was seen] as evil because of the war and his engagement with Kent State. To see Nixon portrayed [this way] is a great joy to me.”
While Schwartz commissions artists to depict particular elections, he gives them complete freedom in what they do. He also gives artistic liberty to the people who have designed complementary frames, John Rowland and Alex Rosenhaus. Adam Weiner, the website designer, drew the caricatures at the bottom of the website.

Jefferson V Adams 1800
Jefferson vs. Adams, 1800, cartoon by Victor Juhasz Howard Schwartz

Schwartz, a member of The Shul and a board member of Kadima and Friendship Circle, has tried his hand at artistic expression through abstract paintings. His wife, Robin, enjoys fashioning designs from recycled clothing. His three children, in their 20s, also have artistic hobbies — Jacob with drawing, Louis with clothing and Samantha with German expressionism.

Family art also has been framed for display.

“I want to engage people in taking an interest in government and in the election,” Schwartz said. “I don’t care what their perspectives are, and I don’t care what their politics are.

“I also think it’s very important not to take everything so seriously. [We’re in] such a divisive time, which is not necessarily beneficial to the country, but because of that, there are aspects of the election which will be commissioned by future artists to portray in a distorted, comedic way.

“For the next presidential election, I will display my cartoons in a gallery.”

To view the election cartoons, go to potustoons.com.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.