Michele Rushworth

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G U I N N ' S   P O R T R A I T   H A N G S 
I N   C A P I T O L

Former governor says he hopes youngsters will recall him for Guinn scholarship


CARSON CITY, May 30, 2007 -- When Kenny Guinn occupied the governor's office on the first floor of the Capitol, he could hear them through the walls: tour groups of schoolchildren passing through the halls, looking up at the portraits of governors past, asking who they were and what they did.

Now Guinn's portrait hangs among them. A $20,000 oil painting of a somewhat stern-looking Guinn was unveiled in its spot to the left of the front door of the Capitol on Tuesday.
"I hope the thousands of young people who walk through here for years to come will say, 'Oh, that's the guy who got us the Guinn Millennium Scholarship,' " the former governor, whose term ended last year, said Tuesday.

"If we can be a role model in our historical life to them, maybe they'll want to go into politics and serve our state," Guinn mused.

The portrait, 4 feet tall and nearly 3 feet wide, shows the square-jawed Guinn standing, leaning one elbow on a chair, his thin lips pressed together in a resolute expression.

Next to Guinn's portrait is that of his immediate predecessor, Bob Miller, who stands against a featureless red backdrop, his expression stoic, almost mournful.

Next to Miller is Richard Bryan, shown seated, with an eager look, almost as if he is about to speak -- which the real Bryan nearly always is.

Guinn's portrait is less impressionistic than Miller's, less precise than Bryan's, with dramatic lighting that highlights his face and figure and fades toward the edges of the canvas.

By state statute, all the paintings are the same size, leading Guinn to joke, "This is the first time I've ever been as tall as Bob Miller."

The artist, Michele Rushworth, said the light in the study of the Governor's Mansion, where Guinn posed for the portrait, helped her create the impression of simultaneous strength and warmth she sought in depicting Guinn.

Selected for the commission last June, Rushworth, of Sammamish, Wash., flew to Carson City to meet with Guinn and get to know him over the course of several conversations.
Rushworth consulted Guinn and his wife, Dema, extensively about colors and poses, then sent them a small oil sketch for their approval. It then took her about two months to complete the portrait. Dema Guinn picked out the elaborate gilt frame.

Of the $20,000 budgeted for the portrait, about $17,000 went to Rushworth, the rest to travel and other expenses, she said.

Greg Bortolin, Guinn's former press secretary, said the painting aptly captured the warmth and confidence in Guinn's blue eyes.

"When people looked him in the eye, they trusted him," he said. "It captures that. He's serious, but at the same time he's warm and friendly."

Asked whether the artist had to elide any unattractive features, Bortolin said he doubted it.
"All my female friends say he's a very good-looking guy," he said.

Lobbyist Susan Fisher agreed. "He's an attractive man," she said. "He's got nice shoulders. Am I blushing?"

Fisher said she liked the portrait, but "I wanted him to smile more. I love his smile."
In unveiling the portrait, the current governor, Jim Gibbons, said, "I asked Kenny why all these governors, you never see them smile. He said it has something to do with the tenure of the job."

Although the animosity between Gibbons and his predecessor is legendary, the two were cordial during the ceremony, even as a crowd assembled outside in anticipation of Gibbons' announcement of a deal on the state budget after some contentious wrangling with the Legislature.

Casting a look outside, Guinn said reassuringly, "You'll get there," adding, "We left plenty of work. But I hope the foundation we left, the template we left, is helping you all make progress in education and health care and all the other needs of the state."
Then he picked up an electrical cord at the edge of the frame and plugged it in, illuminating a lamp atop the portrait that cast a glow over the painting.

June 03, 2007 at 7:14:18 PDT

P O R T R A I T   U N V E I L E D
By Tiffany Brown, Las Vegas Sun
Las Vegas Sun

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 that every time I create one I know that it's going to be greatly appreciated, that it's going to a good home. It's not going to languish in someone's garage and they might eventually 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."

G U I N N   R E T U R N S   T O   C A P I T O L   F O R   
U N V E I L I N G   O F   P O R T R A I T

Geoff Dornan
Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau
May 30, 2007

Kenny Guinn returned to the Nevada Capitol on Tuesday for the unveiling of his official portrait, which now graces the entrance.

"This reflects the eight years of wonderful service by Gov. Guinn," said his successor Gov. Jim Gibbons.

"It was a great eight years for me and, I hope, the state of Nevada," Guinn said.

But the tone didn't stay serious.

"We haven't had a good hanging in a long time," said Gibbons. "I asked Kenny why none of the governors' portraits are smiling. He said it has something to do with the tenor of the job."

Guinn's portrait, however, does have a hint of a smile.

"My goal was to show Gov. Guinn's warmth and his strength and his relaxed, friendly manner in this portrait," said artist Michele Rushworth of the oil painting.

She was selected by a committee, which included then first lady Dema Guinn. They reviewed works by a total of 39 applicants for the $20,000 contract.

More than 100 people, including all five of Guinn's former chiefs of staff, legislative leaders and numerous agency heads, turned out for the unveiling.

The portrait is painted on a Belgian linen canvas using museum-quality materials. It is 50-by-32 inches, the same size as former gov. Bob Miller's. The actual painting took about two months.

Portraits of all Nevada's governors hang in the Capitol, commissioned as they prepare to leave office. The portraits missing from the building were those of acting governors Frank Bell, Denver Dickerson and Morley Griswold. They were commissioned by the 1979 Legislature and now hang in the building along with the others who have held that office.

Each new portrait is hung at the north side of the main entrance to the Capitol, moving each of the others back one space.

G U I N N   P O R T R A I T   D E S T I N E D   F O R   C A P I T O L
Steve Timko
Reno Gazette-Journal

The official portrait of former Gov. Kenny Guinn, destined to hang alongside other official portraits in the Capitol, arrived in Carson City and was formally approved Thursday by Guinn.

The Nevada Department of Cultural affairs displayed the painting Thursday morning before it was boxed and sent to the Nevada secretary of state's office, which will formally accept it and approve payment to artist Michele Rushworth of Sammamish, Wash.

The portrait next goes to the Nevada Legislature, which authorized $17,500 for the portrait and up to $2,500 in travel expenses.

Rushworth took hundreds of pictures of Guinn in preparation for the painting and had them all over her studio.

"It felt like he was in my studio for that month I painted the portrait," Rushworth said. "When it came time to ship the painting, I felt like he was saying goodbye."
Her secret to painting a good portrait is to make the subject appear to be right there, looking back.

"I think every individual has their own presence." Rushworth said. "With Gov. Guinn, I wanted to capture the idea this is an official portrait, but I also wanted to capture his warmth, his approachability."

The portrait of the Republican Guinn is the second official governor's portrait that Rushworth has done. She also painted the official portrait of former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, a Democrat.

The hardest portrait she has ever done was for a widow of a New York firefighter killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It included the New York City skyline and the U.S. flag in the background and was unveiled for the widow the first time live on CBS news.

"It was hard because the feelings from 9/11 were really powerful for me, as well as for others," Rushworth said.

It helped to hear later from the widow that, of all the things people did to help her, the portrait made her feel most comforted, the artist said.

N E V A D A   G O V E R N O R   C O M M I S S I O N

August 23, 2006
Seattle Artist Picked to Paint Guinn

By Cy Ryan
Las Vegas Sun

CARSON CITY - Gov. Kenny Guinn was impressed with how the portrait of former Washington Gov. Gary Locke captured his likeness and qualities - so much so that he has picked the artist to paint his own official portrait.

Michele Rushworth, selected from among three finalists by Guinn and his wife, Dema, has painted scores of portraits of private individuals, including outstanding baseball player Edgar Martinez of the Seattle Mariners and one of a firefighter who died in the 9/11 attacks.

The Seattle artist already has met with the Guinns and plans to be in Carson City in late September to talk with the governor about such points as lighting, whether he wants to be painted sitting or standing and "what message he wants to convey."

After taking photographs, Rushworth will produce "preliminary sketches" to submit to Guinn. After narrowing the choices to three, she then will do a preliminary painting.

"This is a multistep process" to prevent "surprises," she said. The painting is to be completed in December so it can take its place alongside other governors' portraits in the Capitol in January.

The Legislature has allocated $17,500 for the painting and the frame and $2,500 for the artist to travel to Nevada.

A committee reviewed the works of 38 artists, 16 from Nevada. Rushworth, who paints six hours a day in her Seattle studio, was the top vote-getter.

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