The Rotunda was packed with family, friends and co-workers of the Governor all paying tribute to Baldacci’s eight years of dedicated service to the state.
The Governor and First Lady selected Ms. Jean Pilk of Cape Elizabeth to paint the portrait. Pilk was one of 17 artists who sent in portfolios to the Maine Arts Commission for consideration by the Governor and First Lady.
Maine’s 73rd chief executive and former U.S. congressman, asked that the painting depict a photo of his wife and their son, Jack; a photo of Baldacci with his late mother, Rosemary; and a plaque with the words of his late father, Robert: “What have you done for the people today?”
Pilk told Arts commission Director Donna McNeil that there were traits she liked about Baldacci, and that the first time she saw him she wanted to paint him.
“She loved the bone structure of his face and the fact that he moved like Fred Astaire,” said McNeil.
Today’s event is the first time an unveiling has occurred while the sitting Governor is still in office. Governor Baldacci’s portrait will be hung where Governor Angus King’s portrait had been. All the gubernatorial portraits move one space over in the Rotunda of the State House, as administrations change.
Jean Pilk is recognized as one of the top portraitists in America. As a child, she only knew she loved to draw, especially faces and figures. Her first portraits were of her grandparents and great-grandparents in her hometown of Kansas City. Later she went on to study art at Marymount College and the renowned Art Students League in New York City. At the League, Jean perfected her skills under the tutelage of noted portrait artist, Herb Abrams.
Once Jean began painting professionally, her love of faces led her to specialize in portraits. During her long career, Jean has painted portraits of hundreds of individuals, many of whom are very well-known, like Gen. Colin Powell, President Harry S. Truman, J. Edgar Hoover, Sandra Day O’Connor, and now Gov. John Baldacci.
The state sets aside $20,000 for the governor’s portrait. Baldacci’s painting is the 141st work of art to be hung permanently in the state Capitol, according to the Maine State Museum.
The first portrait to come to the Capitol in Augusta was of George Washington in 1836.