Barbour portrait unveiled at Mississippi Capitol

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour once again has a full-time presence in the state Capitol: His portrait now hangs on the first floor.

The painting by Meridian-based artist Greg Cartmell was unveiled Wednesday.

In recognition of Barbour’s service during and after Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, it depicts him in front of a painting of the Biloxi lighthouse.

It also includes a likeness of Barbour’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, Walter Leake, who was one of Mississippi’s original two U.S. senators after statehood in 1817 and was governor from 1822 to 1825.

Barbour, a Yazoo City native who led the Republican National Committee in the mid-1990s, was governor from January 2004 to January 2012. He was term-limited and is working again as a lawyer and Washington lobbyist.

“It was my high honor and great pleasure to serve as your governor. Thank you for the opportunity,” Barbour, 65, told hundreds of lawmakers, former staff members, political supporters and others who filled the Capitol rotunda for a brief ceremony.

He also joked about the ceremony itself: “I have noticed people saying, ‘Well, I’m coming to your hanging. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.’”

Spectators applauded as Barbour and Cartmell pulled a black cloth off the painting.

“Bravo! Bravo,” said state Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville. “I love it.”

Cartmell, who has been painting 63 years, said people often ask him how long it takes to complete a portrait. In the case of Barbour, he said, it took “120 hours and 63 years.”

Barbour thanked Cartmell for including images of Mississippi.

“We southerners have a sense of place that’s very important to us in our lives and the way we live our lives,” Barbour said.

The former governor also paid tribute to his wife, Marsha, who sat nearby. He said the Biloxi lighthouse symbolizes the work she did in Katrina’s aftermath, including making sure state agencies were aware of where supplies were needed.

“Katrina made Marsha the star in our family, not me,” he said.

The Capitol’s Hall of Governors now has portraits of all the former governors except Democrat Bill Allain, who served from January 1984 to January 1988. Allain has chosen not to have one painted.

____

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus