Choose a Nevadan

The finalists have been named to paint the portrait of Gov. Jim Gibbons to hang in the state capitol.

The Nevada Arts Council chose Ned Bettinger of Santa Fe, N.M., John Ennis of Yardley, Pa. and Michele Rushworth of Sammamish, Wash.

According to a story in the Las Vegas Sun: “Gibbons will make the final choice, although he is free to choose any of the 44 artists who applied. The portrait must be painted in oil colors and be framed similar to paintings of other governors in the capitol.

“The cost to the state for the portrait and frame is $17,500. Up to $2,500 also will be available to the artist for travel costs.”

This newspaper has never had anything personal against the governor. (Really, our moral, fiscal, and political differences are anything but personal.) But as he strives to do everything he can while he is a lame duck to create a foundation for the future of the state, we’d like to ask him take a stand for dogma: Governor, tear down that portrait.

Don’t get us wrong. Gov. Jim Gibbons should be honored with his prior brethren for his service to the state of Nevada. He labored against a flood, some of which was not of his causing or choosing.

But with all the financial problems our state is facing, all the foreclosures, the worst employment rate in the country, wouldn’t now be a good time to take a stand and use Nevada tax money to put a Nevadan to work? Why does our state allow artists from other states to even apply to paint this portrait, which does not just represent a man but also personifies the will of the people of Nevada?

Many individuals in this state could be helped by $17,500. If the chosen artist were in foreclosure for his or her home, $17,500 would probably be enough to save it. But even if he or she were not in desperate home straits, the artist would probably spend his money with local businesses like grocery stores, art supply stores, gas stations, and bars and restaurants. Many, many people could be positively affected by supporting Nevada artists for this particular piece of Nevada art.

Not to mention saving a big chunk of $2,500 on travel.

We know that $20,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to our state’s budget problems. But it’s a drop.

We have no reason to doubt that the three artists selected were probably the best in the bunch that applied. We have no reason to question the arduousness of the selection process. The fact of the matter is, the greatest portrait artists in the world probably did not apply—they’re working for kings, movie stars and presidents, not $17,500 commissions. But with all that Nevadans are suffering by declaring their allegiance to this state and not moving on to greener pastures, a Nevadan should paint this portrait. If necessary, another request for proposals should be sent out to Nevada artists.

We humbly suggest that the governor get out his famous veto stamp and dismiss the out-of-state applicants from consideration for this job.