Because what would the nation do without an official portrait of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson at a bargain basement $40,000. And it is bargain basement since the EPA’s cost to Americans has probably been closer to 400 billion dollars.
The portrait isn’t available yet, but you can use your imagination. Or your crayons.
But if you want to cheap out. A a 3-by-4-foot oil portrait of Agriculture Department Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack runs a mere $22,500. I would do it for 30 bucks, but it probably wouldn’t be all that flattering.
All told, the government has paid out at least $180,000 for official portraits since last year, according to a review by The Washington Times of spending records at federal agencies and military offices across government.
Ann Fader, president of Portrait Consultants in Washington, which represents portrait artists, said that because of policy, she could not discuss any specific government commissions. But she said some agencies start the search for an artist long before secretaries leave because paintings can take from eight to 14 months to complete and frame.
“These are done for future generations to see how we live now, and it’s really a tribute as well as part of a person’s legacy,” she said.
“It’s a tremendous privilege to paint a portrait of somebody as accomplished as these people,” she said
Do we actually need portraits of petty bureaucrats that nobody is eve going to remember a year later? Besides their real legacy is in the trillions and trillions of debt that these agencies helped pile up.
Now maybe if this were being done with NEA grants, I could almost get behind it. Give some talented fellow 20 grand to paint Lisa Jackson, Vilsack or Obama in elephant dung and we would at least get some value for our money.
HUD, EPA and USDA are hardly alone. The Commerce Department is spending $22,500 for a secretary’s portrait, while the Interior Department will pay $24,900, records show.
What if we put the Commerce Secretary’s portrait in a jar of urine and called it, “Pissing Away our Money.” That would be real art. And it would only offend one religion. Liberalism.
Steve Ellis, spokesman for the D.C.-based Taxpayers for Common Sense, said official portraits of presidents make sense, “but the further you move down the food chain, it’s less understandable.”
“It’s preposterous to think that these are all in the public domain for the art-enjoying public to review the merits of portraiture,” he said. “It’s about stroking egos.”