Portrait Unveiled

Sun, Jun 3, 2007 (7:14 a.m.)

Former Gov. Kenny Guinn, left, and Gov. Jim Gibbons pulled back the black cloak at the Nevada state capitol in Carson City on Tuesday.

It's Guinn's official state portrait but it's a piece of immortality for Michele Rushworth of Seattle.

"It's quite inspiring and somewhat intimidating," the artist said. "I know that every stroke, my signature, every color I use, will be looked at by school kids and other governors in years and years and years to come.

"I wish I could be around to see it! I wish I could last as long as my paintings do." Rushworth loves painting portraits. Among her other commissions are portraits of Washington Gov. Gary Locke and Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez, unveiled before 40,000 fans.

"One thing I love about doing portraiture is every time I create one I know that it's going to be really appreciated, that it's going to a good home. It's not going to languish in someone's garage and they lose interest in it. It's going to retain it s importance to the family for years and possibly generations."

Rushworth was a controversial choice for Guinn's portrait because she wasn't from Nevada.

The process took about a year from the time she was contacted by the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs. She met several times with Guinn and his wife, Dema, deciding where he would pose (the study of the governor's mansion with its dramatic lighting), how (standing) and whether he would smile (not).

Rushworth said the most challenging part of the gubernatorial portrait is not the painting, but rather keeping up with all the people and paperwork. She worked with 15 people in various state agencies.

"The painting is the fun part."

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