Portrait of Senator Bill Harris, President, Ohio Senate
A letter from the Artist, Leslie Adams, dated December 14, 2010:
“Twenty years ago, a professor at the New York Academy of Art, Vincent Desiderio, said to me, "An artist doesn't paint for people…an artist paints for museums." I never quite understood the meaning of his statement until I experienced the unveiling of my first portrait here in the Ohio Statehouse…this beautiful capital…this museum. As I unveiled my second portrait recently of Senate President Bill Harris, it became even clearer to me. This portrait will remain amongst the collection of images of our notable leaders long after we are gone…not for a few select people to see…but for generations to appreciate.
An extraordinary aspect of my career as a portrait artist is the privilege of meeting many of our great political leaders. One of those many distinguished leaders is Senator Bill Harris. It has been said, "While it is important to capture a likeness, it is, more importantly, the essential character of the individual that a portrait needs to convey." After all, a century from now, no one will know if the Senator's eyes are painted the right shade of brown, but my hope is that they will see the warmth and sincerity in those eyes. In fact, another member of the Ohio Senate told me recently, "Leslie, make sure you paint the kindness in his eyes." During our many sittings, I was able to see that warmth, sincerity, and kindness. I saw it when he spoke of his beloved US Marine Corps, his love for Cay and his children - their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I was able to see it in the way he showed genuine respect for his colleagues and staff who, incidentally, said, "Senator Harris will be the best subject with whom you will work." And even weeks ago, it was evident as I witnessed his interaction with a group of precocious fifth graders who were visiting the Senate Chambers. I watched how they challenged him and how he challenged them. He encouraged the children not only to dream big dreams but oh, by the way, seek the fulfillment of their dreams here in Ohio. I genuinely hope my portrait of President Harris conveys all of these many admirable qualities.”
Adams' chose to portray the President in the Senate Chambers, resting his hand on the original hand-carved marble dais at the front of the chamber as he steps down from the podium. The painting also includes the President's original mahogany chair and hand-carved gavel made from an ash tree found in his native, Ashland County. This portrait is now installed in the Senate Majority Conference room in the Ohio Statehouse.