Investiture of the Portrait of Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly
Yesterday was the investiture celebration for the portrait of Chief Justice Marilynn Kelly at the Michigan Supreme Court. I presented the portrait before the full Court. As always, it is a solemn and joyous occasion. The investiture came fourteen years after the portrait was completed. I think that is a record for me. Keeping a portrait essentially under wraps for that long was painful for someone who preaches never to keep one’s talent under a bushel. So we just had a little fun with the time lag during the event and afterwards at the beautiful reception provided by the supporters of Justice Kelly.
Fellow speakers Included Jules Olsman, Robert Riley, Linda Rexer and Justice Bridget McCormack. Although my attempts at humor were mostly appreciated, I managed to land a few awkward moments in my speech. “Never let the portrait artist speak” will be my future rallying cry. Fortunately, the portrait itself was well received and accepted by the Chief Justice Elizabeth T. Clement.
I am also including here a photo taken at the time I was working on the portrait with Justice Kelly, back in 2008. The time lag is explained by Justice Kelly’s continuous and tireless public service. Case in point, I include her lengthy bio at the end.
Below is my speech just preceding the unveiling, followed by a transcript.
Chief Justice Clemant and the other prospective future subjects for my portraits! May it please the court. I love that expression, may it please the court, particularly when it comes to one of my portraits. Truly, May it please the court.
It is a great honor to be here to present this portrait, painted back in 2008 – it’s dated under my Signature – OF the portrait of the honorable Doreen Gray! You haven’t aged a bit, your honor. But I guess time flies when you’re having fun! Sounds like you’ve had a lot of fun since I created your portrait, that is if your idea of fun is doing endless great public service. Thank you for continuing to go above and beyond. But still, I highly encourage those present to act sooner than later when it comes to having your portrait painted.
And congratulations are in order to the Wayne State board of Governors, reelecting their great sitter, Scout. (Her dog)
No, all those euphemisms of course, refer to you, the iNIMitable Justice Marilyn Kelly. “COME ON DOWN. It’s your turn to play the PORTRAIT is right.“ You all may not know this but we have common ties to Wayne State. I used to be the voice of the Wayne state marching band. I was even on the board of visitors, whatever that is.
As many here know, I have painted a number of posthumous portraits for the court. “I paint dead people.” Perhaps the deadest of them all, was Augustus Woodward, the very first Justice of the Michigan supreme court, which in case you were wondering, I most definitely painted posthumously. I’m not that old yet!
I certainly prefer to meet and get a sense of the person that I paint in person. There is a connection that really must be made in person. Because long after we all have left this Earth our portraits will remain to carry on our legacy. And I’m very proud to, as my late great portraitist father, Joseph Maniscalco liked to put it, “we hang together in the halls of justice.” I commend the ongoing mission of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, and I am proud to have aided in filling in all the missing gaps. I believe we now have portraits of every retired Justice, living and dead, of the Michigan Supreme Court.
I recall the great pleasure of creating this portrait of Justice Kelly. I like to keep it relaxed so I can get close to the soul of the person. I remember enjoying our time together, sharing great jokes, in response to the hilarious comebacks, in response to an endless array of Whitty quips in our brief time together, now so many years ago. In fact, it’s been so long, I can’t remember a single one.
It is often the case that we forget what is said. Only the emotion remains. That is perhaps the best definition of a portrait I can think of. It is the distillation of emotions exuded by the subject. Their essence, if you will. There are no words in a portrait. Just a feeling for the person.
So What I DO remember of my time with Justice Kelly is here, recorded in her portrait. No guile, no veil I had to penetrate. No BS to cut through to get to her soul. She struck me as a straight arrow, in possession of a profound genuineness and conviviality. And I hope I captured those singular qualities in my portrait of you. So it is, without further adieu, that I present to you my portrait of Justice Marilyn Kelly.