Official Manchin portrait unveiled at state Capitol
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin said Tuesday his official gubernatorial portrait captures two essential elements: That he talks with his hands, and "the most beautiful sight" of the state Capitol dome.
Indeed, the official portrait by Alabaman Larry Bishop features a gesticulating Manchin in gray jacket, blue dress shirt and gold tie, with the Capitol dome, restored during Manchin's term as governor, in the background.
Manchin was joined Tuesday by family, friends, about two dozen former staffers, and numerous legislators and lobbyists, all crowded into the Governor's Reception Room in the Capitol for the unveiling.
"There's nothing like being a West Virginian, and having the privilege and honor to serve you in so many capacities," Manchin told the crowd.
Manchin noted the portrait came to be under extenuating circumstances, having left Charleston in the middle of his second term as governor after winning a special election to fill the unexpired term of the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd.
According to the governor's office, total cost for the portrait was $27,664, just slightly more than costs of official portraits for former Govs. Bob Wise and Cecil Underwood. The cost is covered out of a fund in the governor's office to cover transitional costs for former governors.
Manchin stressed that no one will ever replace Byrd, and said he has strived to bring a little common sense of West Virginia to Washington.
Opening the ceremony, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin noted that the unveiling marked only the 34th official gubernatorial portrait in the nearly 150-year history of the state.
"It's not just a portrait. It's a piece of history," said Tomblin, who said he remembers Manchin as an up-and-coming state delegate, and later as a state senator and secretary of state before being elected governor in 2004.
"Today, I'm thankful he's in Washington, continuing to fight for the Mountain State," Tomblin said.
Bishop choked up while discussing the honor of having his painting displayed in the state Capitol, but otherwise was taciturn about discussing the portrait.
"I've always said talking about art is like watching rain. You don't get much out of it," he said.
The portrait will hang in the reception room in the space closest to the governor's office.
@tag:Reach Phil Kabler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1220.