The official portrait of Governor Lincoln D. Chafee was presented to the State of Rhode Island at an event at the Rhode Island State House attended by the artist Julie Gearan and representatives from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. Gearan was chosen in April 2014 from among 124 artists who applied late in 2013 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.
The members of the Gubernatorial Portrait Commission, established by the Secretary of State's office and empowered to advise the Governor on the selection of a portrait artist, included Paul Caranci, Deputy Secretary of State, representing Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis; Jonathan Stevens, Special Assistant to Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, representing the Governor's Office; Lorraine Hynes, representing Department of Administration Director Richard Licht; and Kate Telford and Brien Brothman, both from the Secretary of State's Office. During the final selection process this Commission was advised by artist Gretchen Dow Simpson, designer Libby Slader, and former Deputy Secretary of State Ray Rickman, all members of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
The work will now be turned over to the Rhode Island Department of Administration, which will be responsible for hanging the work among other gubernatorial portraits in the Rhode Island State House, with the advice of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission and the Rhode Island State House Restoration Society. 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.
"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."
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.