Julie Duewel / Nevada Transportation Department
Published Friday, Dec. 17, 2010 | 1:36 p.m.
Updated Friday, Dec. 17, 2010 | 5:18 p.m.
CARSON CITY — Storytellers and historians love a circle. So appropriately, the official portrait of Gov. Jim Gibbons, sworn in secretly four years ago in the dead of night, was hung without ceremony this morning in the Capitol.
The portrait is a soft-focus of the former Air Force pilot with a fighter jet in the background. There’s lots of blue — the color of Nevada’s Battle Born flag.
Shortly after 10 a.m., three guys from buildings and grounds, ladder in tow, hung the portrait. The portrait of late-Gov. Kenny Guinn had been shifted last week to make room for it. Now Gibbons is the first governor visitors see as they enter the historic grounds of state government.
Gibbons’ portrait joins the 28 other governors and another Nevada Territorial governor decorating the building, another middle-aged-to-old white man who lead the state.
Despite his rough tenure as the state’s CEO, Gibbons has a broad smile.
He is only the second governor to appear unapologetically happy in his portrait (the other: a toothily grinning Gov. Charles Russell, 1951-1959.)
By contrast, the late Gov. Kenny Guinn’s looks grim; Gov. Bob Miller stern and serious; Gov. Richard Bryan wears a slight smirk at what could be a private joke; and Gov. Bob List, the last one-term Nevada governor, looks wistfully to the horizon. Gov. Mike O’Callaghan, who would later become executive editor of the Las Vegas Sun, appears ready to scold a reporter. (Many of ye olde early governors are striking for their prodigious and creative facial hair.)
Gibbons has not made many public appearances recently — few since losing the Republican Primary in June, and even fewer since falling off a horse and breaking his pelvis in September.
The ceremonial Christmas tree lighting earlier this month was passed on to Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki. Gibbons participated in his final Board of Examiners meeting by phone.
Gibbons did hold a gathering at the mansion on Thursday, where he unveiled the portrait for about 50 people. Current and former staff, cabinet members and a few friends attended, said Dan Burns, Gibbons’ spokesman. It was Gibbons’ 66th birthday.
“He wanted to avoid a big fanfare,” Burns said of the portrait’s hanging.
Gibbons lost the Republican Primary in June to now Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval (who was in Las Vegas today, and not at the hanging of the portrait) by a massive 28 points. Sandoval will be sworn into office on Jan. 3, at the traditional noon time, according to senior adviser Dale Erquiaga.
Gibbons has been in rehab since his horse accident.
That, in part, explains why Gibbons is avoiding public meetings, Burns said. It is difficult for him to walk or stand for long. “That’s why he wanted to avoid the ceremony,” he said.
In the portrait, Gibbons is standing — tall, straight and proud.