Sen. Joe Manchin’s gubernatorial portrait unveiled - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Sen. Joe Manchin's gubernatorial portrait unveiled

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Something new was added to the Hall of Governors at the West Virginia State Capitol on April 2.

Not just the official gubernatorial print of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the state's 34th governor. The capitol dome made an appearance in his portrait for the first time in any gubernatorial print.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin introduced the Manchin family, telling the jam-packed public gathered in the Governor's Reception Room the gubernatorial portraits are more than pictures – they are pieces of history.

"I think of Arthur I. Boreman, our first governor, when we were a brand new state, separated from Virginia, and all the trials and tribulations he had to face," Tomblin said. "I look at Gov. (Bob) Wise, and September 11th and the actions he had to take."

Manchin took a few moments to reflect on his time as governor, saying one of his proudest moments was a thank you he received from a 13-year-old girl who told him the school clothing vouchers helped her to fit in at school.

Both Manchin and Tomblin said they had never been to a gubernatorial portrait unveiling, and Manchin asked the people in the crowd to raise their hands if they had attended one before, and not many of them did.

"Well, we're in the majority here, folks," Manchin said. "Let ‘er rip."

Manchin's portrait, done by Larry Bishop, will hang in the Governor's Reception Room, and Wise's portrait was moved to the other space in that room. Gov. Cecil Underwood's portrait from his second term was moved from the reception room to the main hallway and all other portraits were adjusted.

In his portrait, Manchin is wearing a suit typical of his usual style – a dark-colored suit with pinstripes, cufflinks and pin and a light blue shirt with yellow tie. He is standing with his hands facing palms up as if in the middle of a story – something former first lady Gayle Manchin said she wanted to see in his portrait.

"I wanted people to feel the passion that he has," Gayle Manchin said. "As I looked at Paul Bishop's portfolio, the people he painted look like they're ready to come alive."

Gayle Manchin said she and a small group of about six other people, including West Virginia Division of Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, looked at about 10 different artist portfolios to start the work of selecting Manchin's portrait.

Gayle Manchin said the portrait was never something she thought about or discussed with her husband.

"I never thought about it, and we always looked at things day-to-day, and frankly, I thought we would have two more years," Gayle Manchin said.

After the June 2010 death of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a special election put Manchin in that seat in Congress.

Gayle Manchin said Bishop was the first choice of everyone on the committee, and he spent a day with Joe Manchin to observe him. Bishop took pictures and video of Manchin doing things at the state Capitol for later reference. This is his first portrait at the Capitol.

Bishop said he looked at all the portraits through history, and he wanted Manchin's portrait to be traditional enough to fit in among the other portraits, but modern.

Manchin said he used to take short trips outside at night just to observe the Capitol glowing dome, so it was important to him to include it in his portrait. The dome was restored in 2005 during Manchin's first term in office from a solid-gold structure to the blue and gold of Cass Gilbert's original design.

And Manchin told the crowd the other historically accurate part of the portrait – his seemingly animated hands.

"You all know I talk with my hands," he joked.