Former governor says he hopes youngsters will recall him
for Guinn scholarship
By MOLLY BALL
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
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,"
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
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
"The painting is the fun part."
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
"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.
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
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,
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,
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.
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.
Return to In the News