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Austin artist's work featured on Joe Biden campaign's official tote bags

Rick Fleming, an Austin portrait artist with an intellectual disability, talked with the former vice president over Zoom this month.

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin artist’s portrait of former Vice President Joe Biden has been selected to feature on the Democratic presidential candidate’s official merchandise as a tote bag.

Rick Fleming, an Austin portrait artist with an intellectual disability, showcases his work at SAGE Studio, a space for artists with disabilities located inside a shipping container in East Austin.

According to SAGE Studio, Fleming is a supporter of the former vice president and was commissioned to do a tote bag of Biden in August.

“We posted a picture of Rick and his tote, and through a series of serendipitous internet happenings it got the attention of the Biden campaign, who reached out to arrange a call between the VP and Rick,” SAGE Studio said in a Facebook post on Saturday.

Fleming and Biden held a Zoom chat on Saturday, Oct. 10.

“While all of us were incredibly nervous, Rick was cool as a cucumber,” SAGE Studio said. “Rick and the VP chatted about Rick’s art, the VP’s dogs and the importance of wearing a mask.”

In the end, Biden asked Fleming if his campaign could reproduce and sell the artist’s tote bags through its official campaign web store.

On Saturday, Biden posted a video to Instagram showing a portion of his Zoom chat with Fleming.

According to SAGE Studio’s website, Fleming is a drummer and former bodybuilder. His art draws inspiration from pop culture, including classic rock, movies from the ‘80s and ‘90s and WWE wrestling, it says.

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