ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s official portrait, unveiled Thursday, shows a man at home in nature, casually dressed in a sport coat and polo shirt, unbuttoned at the collar.
The portrait shows the outgoing governor on the banks of the Marshyhope Creek in Vienna. The relaxed pose and business-Friday attire is a stark difference from the formal portrait of his predecessor, now-Comptroller William Donald Schaefer.
Governors, going back 10 administrations, in all the other paintings hung in the Governor’s Reception Room in the State House are in suits and ties. Glendening’s portrait will hang next to that of his longtime political adversary Schaefer.
Glendening said his look was “a little serious; a little visionary.”
The $35,000 portrait was paid for by the Government House Trust, a private fund-raising group that furnishes the State House.
Although he and Schaefer have been sharply critical of each other, at the unveiling, Glendening called the comptroller a “fine man.”
Schaefer said he wasn’t invited to the unveiling, and as for the portrait: “I’ll see it every Wednesday for the next four years and that will be enough for me.” Schaefer and the governor are members of the Board of Public Works, which meets in the Governor’s Reception Room where the portraits are hung. The meetings were often battlegrounds for the comptroller and Glendening.
But Wednesday, Glendening’s last board meeting, the two seemed to make peace. It “turned out to be one of the great love fests of the century,” Glendening said. Glendening gave Schaefer, and fellow board member Treasurer Nancy Kopp flowers at the meeting.
At the unveiling, speakers focused on the governor’s environmental and land-protection efforts, including his Smart Growth program, which limited development in the state.
“There is little doubt that history will hold Smart Growth as his crowning achievement,” said Will Baker, Chesapeake Bay Foundation president. “Parris Glendening literally wrote the book on Smart Growth and launched a nationwide movement.”
Other Glendening programs, including Program Open Space and Rural Legacy, preserved more land than was developed in his eight years in office.
Glendening said his environmentalism was sparked by development of areas of Florida’s Everglades. In the time he went to college at Florida State University he said he saw “stark” everglades developed like a “main street.”
“I could tell something was terribly, terribly wrong,” he said.
Rumors of the non-traditional portrait were spread long before the unveiling, Glendening said.
“At one point rumors had gotten to the point that this was going to be a Picasso-type presentation,” he said.
John Howard Sanden, of Ridgefield, Conn., said he painted the portrait in six or seven sittings. He painted the background separately with a member of the governor’s staff as a stand-in.
“The only person who can give the governor directions is the portrait artist — and his wife,” Sanden said, to the laughter of the crowd. Jennifer Crawford was at the unveiling with her and the governor’s 4-month-old daughter, Gabrielle “Bri” Glendening.
Sanden also praised the artists William Draper and Albert Murray for their portraits of former Maryland governors Harry Hughes and Theodore McKeldin. “I knew my work was cut out for me.” – 30 – CNS-1-9-03