"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Mama Ayesha

Et Al.

Mama Ayesha stands in the middle of this mural, along with 11 presidents, on the west wall of Mama Ayesha's Restaurant. It's “Keep Driving On – The Mama Ayesha’s Presidential Mural” ©2012 by Karla ‘Karlisima’ Rodas.

The restaurant has this biography of Ayesha Howar Abraham (c. 1900-1993).
Our founder, Mama Ayesha Abraham, was born in the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in the late 1800’s. After running 24 farms by the age of 21, she came to the United States in the late 1940’s and was hired as a cook for the Syrian Embassy. After toiling at the embassy and working at several D.C. restaurants, she opened her first restaurant in 1960, Calvert Café. The booming café served ambassadors, foreign dignitaries, and U.S. officials. Known as the Calvert Café until Mama Ayesha’s death in 1993, the building was renamed in her honor in 1994. Now run by her nephews and great-nephews, although Mama Ayesha is no longer with us, her memory and recipes remain.

When we lived in the neighborhood in late 70s, this was Calvert Café but everyone called it “Mama Ayesha's.”   

Karlisima signed the mural in the lower right corner.

and followed that with a lengthy inscription: (Already in these 2015 pictures the mural has been graffiti'd)

Artist: Karlisima ~ Karlisima.com
Title: “Keep Driving On – The Mama Ayesha’s Presidential Mural”
Dedicated to: Sgt. Michael Pollard (U.S. Army) Mayamerica Cortez
Noam Israel & President Barack Obama. Inspired by the philosophy of Walter Russell
And in loving memory of Ronald H. Shuett & Eugene E. Badal
Mural funded in part by:
The D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities
Mama Ayesha’s Restaurant
Mural by: Karla Karlisma Rodas
Karlisma.com The lady in the middle is Mama Ayesha founder of this restaurant
Special Thanks To: Mayamerica Cortez, Daniel Somarriba
D.C. Government, Dixie Marroquin
Aldana & Associates … Henry O. Aldana
Adams Morgan ANC

Bruce Guthrie has this 2011 photo of Karlisima at work on the mural, tiling the American flag.

Photo © Bruce Guthrie

The original idea for the mural suggested by Mama Ayesha's family was to portray Helen Thomas in the center of the mural but the reporter and author declined. So the mural features Mama Ayesha arms interlocked with Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

From left-to-right there are 11 presidents flanking Mama Ayesha, starting with Dwight Eisenhauer.

Dwight D. Eisenhauer

Followed by John F.  Kennedy.

John F. Kenndy

And Lyndon B. Johnson.

Lyndon B. Johnson

And Richard Nixon.

Richard M. Nixon

And Gerald Ford.

Gerald Ford

And after Jimmy Carter,

Jimmy Carter
…we're back to Mama Ayesha.

on her (proper) left is Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan

and George Bush Senior.

George H. W. Bush

And Bill Clinton comes between the two Bushs.

Bill Clinton

George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush

Here's George W. Bush.

George W. Bush

And Barack Obama.

Barack Obama

Here, Obama stands in front of the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument.

Barack Obama, Thomas Jefferson & George Washington

Among the many patriotic symbols we find the Lincoln Memorial,

and an Eagle.

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