Hercules and Old Doll

“A comprehensive catalog of unique experiences is veiled behind every silent gaze of the human expression,” says figurative painter Ronald Jackson. Farmers & Distillers commissioned Jackson to create portraits of Hercules and Old Doll, two enslaved cooks who worked on George Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation in the mid to late 1700’s. A self-taught artist, Jackson embraced this project using his visually poetic style and keen interest to interpret who these cooks were as individuals.

Jackson’s paintings help us honor Hercules as America’s first presidential chef and Old Doll for her role as head cook in the Mount Vernon kitchen. We pay tribute to these extraordinary individuals for their contributions to our nation’s history and current culinary landscape.

Our goal is to tell the story of our first president, his cooks, and our country’s past as clearly and honestly as we can, for we will not participate in the whitewashing of history. We hope our guests will view these portraits and read our menus, and be reminded that our founding father, the innovative and important George Washington, was also a slave-holder and that his slaves worked under grave duress and in grueling conditions. This is part of our nation’s history that must never be forgotten or overlooked.

We worked with curator Myrtis Bedolla of Galerie Myrtis and sought the advice of historians from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture and Mount Vernon to ensure that the stories of Hercules and Old Doll are told accurately and honorably.

As an artist, Jackson seeks to engage the viewer in a dialogue by what is being seen and imagined through paintings that are reminiscent of his life experiences. Jackson says he is trying to “capture intimate settings to use as a gateway to ponder the complexities of the human experience, as well as the society that influences them.”

Raised in a farming family in the rural Arkansas Delta, Jackson is the youngest of 11 siblings and has always been drawn to the creative arts. Halfway through a 21-year military career, Jackson had an epiphany that turned his attention to painting. He has participated in several juried group art shows and has been featured in three solo exhibitions. He is represented by Galerie Myrtis in Baltimore, MD.

Title: Hercules and Old Doll
Date: 2017
Dimensions: Each painting is 40”x 50”
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Location in Restaurant: Main Dining Room
Website: Galerie Myrtis

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