Alison Davis Lyne Portraits of
2003 Kentucky Women Remembered Honorees for
Kentucky Commission on Women
In the fall of 2002, I was again commissioned to paint the portraits of the 2003 honorees selected to be a part of the Kentucky Women Remembered Exhibit which is on permanent display in the Kentucky State Capitol's rotunda.
The honorees were selected by the Kentucky Commission on Women from nominations from various sources. The nomination packages included lists of past accomplishments on the part of the honorees, their contributions to the state of Kentucky and their own communities. When faced with so many fine accomplishments, for each recipient, I found it hard to choose just a few ideas to represent the "visual character" of these honorees. I made some color sketches for the committee to review. Upon approval of the sketches I began work on the portraits.
I first began on the Rosemary Clooney portrait. I had read her autobiography, to try to learn about what was important to her, to put those ideas in her portrait. Part of the illustration project is to come up with visuals that will show the outstanding accomplishments of the person portrayed. I chose an outline of her home county, with Mayfield highlighted, and the street sign (of the street named in her honor) from the river front street she lived on while growing up, to show the Kentucky connection. Of course she has recorded her music on media from 33 records to CDs (one of which I bought and listened to while working on her portrait), and appeared numerous times on her TV show and as guest on many others. Finally I showed her beginnings as a singer with the Tony Pastor band in the late 1940's, in contrast with the later Hollywood promo photo I was given to work from. Since the Commission wanted slightly less color than was in the photo, I toned down her costume a little, but it just let her brilliant smile come through all the more. After I completed the portrait I was contacted by Kathy Brown who runs a website devoted to her at Rosmary Clooney.com, who wanted to show the portrait on her website.
I next started on a portrait for Kentucky's First Lady Judi Patton. I was lucky that the Kentucky Monthly magazine had devoted it's January 2003 issue to Mrs. Patton as Kentuckian of the Year. The very informative article highlighted her work on behalf of victims of breast cancer and for victims of domestic violence, which I symbolized by using the pink and purple ribbons. I naturally used the state capitol building to show her two term tenure as Kentucky's First Lady. During the presentation ceremony, Mrs. Patton spoke most eloquently of her mother's dedication to a career in social work. Mrs. Patton went on to tell of the influence that dedication had on her choice of causes to champion during her tour of duty as Kentucky's First Lady.
I then began work on the portrait of Katherine Peden. The nominators had submitted an article profiling Ms. Peden in the business magazine Site Selection and Industrial Development. It listed her lifetime commitment to the National Business and Professional Women's Club, her work with the John F. Kennedy, President's Commission on Women in 1961, her appointment (the only female so appointed) to the 1967 National Advisory Committee on Civil Disorders known as the Kerner Commission, which produced the first government document recognizing that racism existed. In 1963 she was appointed (the only woman) Kentucky Commissioner of Commerce. By the time her tenure was done, she had greatly increased the number of new jobs in Kentucky and halved the unemployment. She also spoke at the 1968 Democratic Convention after winning the Kentucky Democratic nomination for US Senate seat. I showed this by a small vignette of the 1968 convention floor. I was lucky to also have a photo of her speaking to President Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office, which I used in a second vignette. Lastly I used the Kentucky State Seal on her office wall in the Kentucky capitol, which she had painted " a good, bold tangerine."
I began work on the Jean Ritchie portrait, after reading her 1954 biography, and while listening to one of her CDs. It lovingly told of her upbringing in Viper, Kentucky, and her musical influences. I was very lucky to be provided with an early photo of her, by Ms. Ritchie's photographer husband, George Pickow. I drew a old cabin with wrap-a-round porch, and showed Ms. Ritchie sitting and playing her dulcimer and singing with some of her extended family ( she was youngest of 14 children). I read that she had received the Folk Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award in 1988 and also found that she had been awarded the NEA National Heritage Fellowship's special Bess Lomax Hawes Award in 2002. I finally drew an outline of Kentucky (pinpointing Viper) and an outline of Great Britain connected by a music staff and the start of an old folk song "Lord Randall" to show her work, while on a 1952 Fulbright Fellowship. The fellowship was to document the roots of Appalachian music in songs from the British Isles.al
After completion of the four portraits, I and my husband Frank, were invited to attend a luncheon at the Governor's Mansion in honor of the recipients, and the unveiling of the portraits at the Capitol Rotunda. During the luncheon, we were graced with a performance by Heather French Henry, who sang a medley of Rosemary Clooney's hits, and two beautiful Jean Ritchie songs sung by Patty Tarter and Judy Hudson. At the unveiling, we had the honor of again seeing First Lady Judi Patton, (I will always treasure her hug!), and meeting Ms. Katherine Peden. Ms. Peden said that no politician could pass up the chance to make a speech, and she was no exception! She proceeded to deliver a few delightful remarks. Both Nick Clooney and his wife Nina were present and were most gracious to me when we got a moment to speak. When Mr. Clooney unveiled the portrait he said that he was going to do something he had never done before, "speak for Rosemary", which gathered a nice laugh. He said he was sure Rosemary would be most honored.
This ongoing project has been both a pleasure and a learning experience. I have enjoyed learning about these exceptional Kentucky women, and I hope to continue learning about good people who make a difference. I enjoy learning about people, ideas, and especially history, which is, after all, only the story of our lives.
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