Jerry Brown was sworn in today as Governor of California for a third time, making him the first governor in the Golden State’s history to hold non-consecutive terms. He was last in office from 1975 to 1983 and his official gubernatorial portrait from that period is unconventional to say the least. I grew up outside of Sacramento and I recall always stopping in front of this picture any time my school would take a tour of the Capitol building. So I asked Leonard, a painter in his own right, what his take on this unusual (and somewhat controversial) portrait is. Here’s his response:
I think Jerry Brown can be commended for commissioning Dan Bachardy to paint something out of the norm for his official portrait. Most politicians (including almost every President) have had their portraits done by hack painters…the kinds of artists who make their livings glorifying the CEOs of major corporations. That said, this painting is not all that inspiring either. So, although I used to be a painter, and wouldn’t want to see any artist denied a chance to make some money, I wonder whether politicians wouldn’t be better served being photographed by a fine photographer (someone other than the Karsh types who were the photographic equivalents of the hack portraitists).
What painter would you like to see commissioned to paint political portraits? Leave your answer in the comments section below!