Chicago Sun-Times: Quinn shares canvas with Lincoln, White Sox, people of color

CCH editor’s note: Former Gov. Quinn’s new portrait includes a photograph of the governor signing a bill to ask voters if the state’s minimum wage should be increased. It shows Mr. Quinn handing the pen to long-time CCH leader Gloria Davis, an activist on the 2014 wage campaign. Ms. Davis was invited to Springfield to participate in a celebration of the potrait’s unveiling. 

By Tina Sfondeles

Former Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday unveiled his official portrait at the Illinois State Capitol — a painting featuring 44 items that he deemed important to his life, including photographs of his family, a link to a Bible verse and a photograph of him signing a bill that placed a referendum about minimum wage on the ballot.

It’s the first governor’s portrait to feature “people of color” in the Hall of Governors.

The portrait painted by Illinois artist William T. Chambers features Quinn standing in front of a desk, surrounded by pictures of his parents and family members, while holding a Bible. An image of Abraham Lincoln is framed behind him. Other items include a baseball with a plaque that reads 2005 — an homage to the Chicago White Sox World Series win.

Former Gov. Pat Quinn’s official portrait. Provided photo.

During the ceremony, Quinn joked that the artist offered to put “found items” in the portrait, and Quinn chose to include 44 of them.

He spoke of expanding healthcare coverage, signing the marriage equality law and abolishing the death penalty — all depicted in the portrait as well.

“We have to protect that expansion right now,” Quinn said during the unveiling, alluding to President Donald Trump’s overhaul of Obamacare.

Quinn said he came into office during a “difficult time” — with a recession and an imprisoned governor. Quinn was sworn in as governor in 2009 after former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached. Quinn lost a re-election bid to Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2014.

To applause — and in a nod to the state’s historic budget impasse — Quinn noted he signed six budgets during his tenure. He spoke about signing important revenue measures. He said he was willing to raise taxes — “it wasn’t easy but it was important.”

The portrait also includes a photograph of Quinn signing a bill that put an advisory referendum on the November 2014 ballot asking voters whether the state’s minimum wage should be increased. He is surrounded by supporters in the image, which marks the first time “people of color” have ever been featured in a governor’s portrait.

The painting features 44 interactive “found items” representing people and issues from his career in public service. Quinn also announced the creation of the website where visitors can follow links to items featured in the portrait.

Quinn opted not to use state funds for the portrait and instead raised money for the framed painting and website.