LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — After more than three decades in elected office, outgoing Gov. Mike Beebe is already considered a fixture at the Arkansas state Capitol. Now he's made it official.
The two-term Democrat on Friday unveiled his official portrait, which will be displayed at the state Capitol after he leaves office next month due to term limits. The oil painting by Hot Springs art instructor Ovita Goolsby was based on photos she took of the governor, and took about five months to complete.
"There's no way in the world I was going to sit for x-teen hours," Beebe said at the unveiling.
The painting features Beebe leaning back in an office chair, his left hand under his chin and sporting a slight smirk on his face. Beebe served 20 years in the state Senate and four as attorney general before he was elected governor in 2006.
On Jan. 13, after Republican Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson is sworn in, Beebe's portrait will be hung on the east side of the governor's conference room at the Capitol. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee's portrait, which is currently in that spot, will be moved to the second-floor rotunda.
Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said the portrait cost $12,500 and the state Democratic Party raised money from private donors to pay for it. He said the portrait would be listed on a quarterly report the governor must file on gifts he receives on behalf of the state, but didn't know if the individual donors would be listed in that report.
The previous five governor's portraits had been done by artist Nancy Harris, an Arkansas native who now lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. But first lady Ginger Beebe selected Goolsby, who teaches part-time at National Park Community College in Hot Springs, to paint the portrait.
"All of her portraits, they looked alive. I mean, real, like they would speak," the first lady told reporters. "That really attracted me. And when Mike met with her and she said 'you do not have to sit,' that was it."
Goolsby said she's painted portraits for 35 years, but her work normally focused on women and children. She said she wanted the portrait to show how striking Beebe's blue eyes can be when he looks at someone directly.
"I wanted to get that particular look, and it was hard," Goolsby said. "He's got gorgeous eyes, and he's such a handsome person, but I really wanted to convey that."
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