In the tight quarters of the Capitol’s third floor rotunda, lawmakers and fans of the president crowded in front of the presidential gallery that finally holds 45 portraits.
They’d come to see a painting of President Donald Trump placed in a vacant space beneath former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and next to Barack Obama.
Though the absence of the portrait and lack of funds made headlines last year, it took about the same amount of time for the portrait of Obama to reach the wall during his administration, The Denver Post reports. The portrait of Trump was completed in April and has been waiting for this formal unveiling.
Trump wears his signature blue suit and red tie and a stoic expression. His portrait — like all the others in the gallery — shows only his head and shoulders. Trump’s pose was selected from a range of photographs chosen by the artist that were voted on and approved by the Capitol Building Advisory Committee.
Colorado Springs artist Sarah A. Boardman, who also painted the portrait of Obama, attended the unveiling and spoke about why she chose the photograph that she did.
“My portrait of President Trump has been called thoughtful, non-confrontational, not angry, not happy, not tweeting,” Boardman joked. “In five, 10, 15, 20 years, he will be another president on the wall who is only historical background and he needs to look neutral.”
The other 43 presidential portraits were painted by one man, Lawrence Williams, who died before he could paint Obama’s portrait.
So Boardman had the challenging task of creating a portrait that matched the style of the other paintings. She said it took about four months to complete.
“I paint in classical realism,” Boardman said. “I start in a black, white, and gray toned portrait and then over that I started glazing the colors until I reached the final product.”
Several lawmakers spoke at the unveiling, including former senate president Kevin Grantham, who raised nearly $11,000 through an online fundraising campaign to pay for the portrait.
“We have gathered here not simply as supporters or opponents of the president, but as history’s careful preservers and admirers,” Grantham said. “It’s only fitting that a populus such as the president have the first crowd funded campaign for his presidential portrait.”
Jerry Grotkier, wearing his ‘Trump 2020’ hat and shirt covered in a bald eagle and American flag, drove up from Colorado Springs to view the unveiling.
“This is a big deal to have President Trump’s picture up with all the other presidents,” Grotkier said. “Based on the flavor of the politics here in the Capitol, it’s a big deal to have Trump’s face here in the nest of insanity that’s going on.”
Grotkier referenced oil and gas measures that were passed, which he believes will kill the industry and cost taxpayers millions.
The event, posted on Facebook, was hosted by Colorado’s Senate Republicans, but was described as a nonpartisan event. Dan Pabon, a former Democratic member of the House of Representatives, attended the ceremony. He described himself as the only elected Democrat to donate to the online campaign to fund the Trump portrait.
“The hall of portraits of presidents is a tour showcase for any school-aged students coming through here, and I just wanted to make sure that when they came through they had the full experience of all the presidents that have been elected,” Pabon said.
Colorado State Patrol also attended, and though the Capitol was recently vandalized, Master Trooper Gary Cutler said there are no concerns for the event or that Trump’s portrait would be tampered with.
In January 2018, a vandal damaged several busts, a statue and furniture at the Capitol. In July of the same year, a portrait of Vladamir Putin was placed on an easel in front of the vacant space where Trump’s portrait now hangs. A legislative aide was reprimanded for using her badge to allow a member of ProgressNow Colorado into the Capitol with the picture of Putin.
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