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Mantecans art work in Cage show
Manteca Artist Guild president Emily Whitakers painting of Nicolas Cage will be featured in The Nicolas Cage Party art show on April 12 at the Balancoire restaurant in San Francisco. - photo by Photo Contributed

Emily Whitaker answered a call-out for a quirky San Francisco art show, never realizing her submission would be accepted and then broadcast across the globe by a leading news source.

Nearly 20 years after he won the Oscar for Best Actor, it appears Nicolas Cage can still generate a buzz. 

Whitaker is one of 80 artists from four continents to be featured in Ezra Croft’s San Francisco art show dubbed “The Nicolas Cage Party,” which debuts on April 12 at the Balancoire restaurant on Mission Street. 

She answered Croft’s advertisement online, submitting a portrayal of Cage’s character in “Raising Arizona.”

The painting is of an iconic shot of Cage’s character, ex-con H.I. McDunnough, standing in a lineup, his thumb tucked into the top of his jeans, his smirk framed by bushy sideburns. 

Whitaker’s rendition is blasted with psychedelic shades of pink, blue and green, and the prison identification card Cage holds is replaced with a placard that reads: “I (heart) Sugar.” Yes, Whitaker, who uses the handle “Tormented Sugar,” took just a few creative liberties. 

The president of the Manteca Artist Guild says she’s obsessed with Cage, who won Best Actor for his role in “Leaving Las Vegas,” and jumped at the chance to be included in Croft’s show.

Croft wanted to recognize Cage’s longevity and cult following.

“About three months ago, I began to ponder the enigmatic intensity of Nicolas Cage, wondering, ‘This guy has been in almost 70 movies, he’s an icon, but not classically so. Why hasn’t there been an art show dedicated to him,’ ” Croft said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “And then, like the clouds parting, I knew this show had to happen.”

Croft used Craigslist and Facebook to reach artists and fans around the globe. He said the response has been overwhelming, with artists “beating down my door to participate,” he said. “It’s kind of scary and awesome at the same time.”

It’s been a surreal experience for Whitaker, too.  

Her painting was chosen as the lead art on the art show’s Huffington Post story and it appears as a thumbnail on the homepage, beneath a painting by her idol, Sebastian Masuda.

She’s also featured on the show’s official website,, as one of the “heroic artists.” Her bio blast cites her love of celebrity and shoes: “Categorized as a celebrity artist and fashion illustrator with an addiction to painting portraits of shoes. Currently working on a series ‘30 shoes in 30 days.’”

Tickets for the show will be sold at the door.