PORTLAND (AP) – The Maine artist who brought LOVE to the world is doing the same with HOPE.

Robert Indiana decades ago created the pop icon LOVE, known worldwide with its letters stacked two to a line, the letter “o” tilted on its side. Now he has created a similar image with HOPE, with proceeds going to Democrat Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

A 6-by-6 stainless steel sculpture of the image was unveiled this week outside the Pepsi Center at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The campaign is selling T-shirts, pins, bumper stickers and other items adorned with HOPE.

Indiana would like to see his latest work become a symbol of newfound hope for Americans.

“There might be a chance we survive eight years of Bush, I don’t know. That’s where the hope comes in,” he said in a phone interview from his home on Vinalhaven.

Indiana, 79, is a pop artist whose work often features simple, iconic images using short words and numbers. His best-known work is LOVE, which he designed for a Christmas card for The Museum of Modern Art in 1964.

Few pop images are more widely known than LOVE, which has appeared worldwide in sculptures, prints and paintings. The U.S. Postal Service featured it on a stamp in 1973, selling 333 million of them, Indiana said.

Indiana has been fooling around with the word “hope” for a number of years, he said. But it wasn’t until Obama came along – with his message of hope and his book “The Audacity of Hope” – that Indiana turned it into a work of art.

This isn’t Indiana’s first foray into politics. He got involved with the peace movement in the 1960s, he said, and created works for Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter.

After Indiana created the HOPE image, longtime friend Michael McKenzie hooked up with the Obama campaign. McKenzie owns American Image Atelier, a New York publishing company that publishes prints of Indiana’s LOVE icon.

McKenzie got the Obama campaign to sign on, and two artists from Eliot, Maine – Josh Dow and Lauren Holmgren – were contracted to make a sculpture this summer.

In the end, McKenzie thinks Indiana’s HOPE will be as popular as LOVE.

But Indiana thinks McKenzie’s dreaming.

“I think he’s being terribly optimistic that HOPE will one day equal the popularity of LOVE.”

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