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Raimondo picks Brooklyn artist for official portrait

A nonprofit provided $50,000 for her portrait, and the state budgeted $25,000, up from the $15,000 budgeted for portraits of former governors Chafee, Carcieri, and Almond

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo testifies before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, regarding the 2023 budget request for the Commerce Department, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on May 11, 2022.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

PROVIDENCE — Former Governor Gina M. Raimondo has chosen a Brooklyn artist, Patricia Watwood, to paint her official gubernatorial portrait, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts announced Friday.

Raimondo, who became US commerce secretary last year, selected Watwood after the official portrait selection committee of arts council members and community representatives narrowed a field of 350 applicants to 11 finalists.

Patricia Watwood, the artist chosen to paint the official portrait of former Rhode Island Governor Gina M. RaimondoHad

“It is a great honor to be selected to portray Rhode Island’s first woman governor,” Watwood said. “In creating this work of art for the State House, I look forward to celebrating her inspiring service, and show young women, girls, and the people of Rhode Island that there is a place in leadership at the highest level for all of us.”


A nonprofit created to pay for costs associated with the National Governors Association 2017 summer meeting in Providence provided $50,000 for the portrait, arts council spokesperson Faye Zuckerman said. Rhode Island NGA 2017, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, provided funds for Raimondo’s second inauguration and her official portrait, she said.

The state had budgeted $25,000 for the portrait before receiving the donation, and now those funds will be used for costs such as the commissioning process, travel by the artist, and other incidental costs, Zuckerman said.

The state had budgeted $15,000 for the portraits of former governors Lincoln D. Chafee, Donald L. Carcieri, and Lincoln Almond, she said.

The arts council described Watwood as a leading figure in the contemporary figurative movement. Her subjects are primarily women and figures, incorporating myth and narrative. Her art has been exhibited at the Beijing World Art Museum, the European Museum of Modern Art, and the Butler Museum.

Watwood has done portraits of two St. Louis mayors and of two pioneering women, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and Ida B. Wells, both in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.