Press Releases


State Arts Council Announces Providence Artist Julie Gearan will paint Governor Chafee Official Portrait

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts announced today that Governor Lincoln D. Chafee has selected Rhode Island artist Julie Gearan to create his official portrait. Gearan, of Providence, was chosen from among 124 artists who applied late last year as part of a national search conducted by the State Arts Council.

State law requires that an official portrait be commissioned for each Governor before he or she leaves office. The law calls on the Secretary of State's office to oversee the selection process. The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts assisted the Secretary of State and Governor in organizing the process of securing and reviewing applicants for this commission. The fee for this commission is $15,000, the same fee paid for the official portrait of former governors Lincoln Almond and Donald Carcieri.

"Commissioning a portrait of a governor is an important event in the life of Rhode Island," said Randall Rosenbaum, director of the State Council on the Arts. "Art is the way society preserves its history. Great art tells a great story, and walking through the halls of the state house, you experience the history of Rhode Island."

Artist Julie Gearan agreed, saying,"to be a part of this historic tradition in portrait painting is a wonderful opportunity. I look forward to working with the Governor to capture his unique character as well as his specific place in Rhode Island history. It should be a very interesting project."

Julie Gearan a recipient of several awards, including a 2007 Merit Award Fellowship in Painting from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, is a Providence resident. Ms. Gearan teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design and Roger Williams University, and has taught at the University of Rhode Island, the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago and at Indiana University campuses in Florence, Italy and Bloomington, Indiana. Her work is in several private collections, and she has exhibited work in Rhode Island and throughout the country. She earned her B.F.A. at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and a Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Ms. Gearan also studied for two years at the Rome campus of Temple University and at the Yale University Summer School for the Arts.

With regards to painting portraits, Ms. Gearan stated, "As a painter of themes that connect human relationships of past and present, linking ancient myths with our current everyday lives, I have always been interested in the possibilities of "the portrait" in painting. From the austerity of Holbein to the grace of Van Dyck, I have studied the genre intensely. Gilbert Stuart's portraits of skaters fueled the fire in a recent series I painted since living here in Rhode Island. The organization of color, the language of light and dark, and the mastery of the human form, all contribute to the greatest portraits, but it seems to me that it is the sensitivity to the human spirit that makes a portrait painting most memorable. I take these inspirations with me when painting a portrait, attempting to gather likeness and character while simultaneously aspiring to make a strong work of art."

More information can be found at Gearan's website at Samples of Gearan's portrait work can be found at

The portrait is scheduled to be completed before the end of the year, and will be ready for an official unveiling just after Governor Chafee leaves office.

About the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
  • Online:
  • Release date: 04-07-2014

Share this: