The 11 territorial governors and five state governors whose official portraits grace the executive chambers at the state Capitol have one thing in common: They are all men.
But that will soon change with the addition of a portrait of Gov. Linda Lingle, the first woman to serve as chief executive since Hawaii became a U.S. territory and a state.
The portrait, painted in oil on canvas by local artist Christy Fujii from a digital photograph by local photographer Ric Noyle, was unveiled last night at a ceremony at Washington Place. The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts paid $16,350 for the photo, portrait and framing.
The photo of Lingle was taken outside at Washington Place with the Capitol as a backdrop. Lingle is dressed in a blue suit and is wearing a yellow lei.
The governor saw the portrait for the first time yesterday morning.
Lingle said she chose Fujii as the artist after seeing portraits of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV on display at the Queen’s Medical Center’s 150th-anniversary celebration. The governor said she was impressed that Fujii worked off black-and-white photographs of the monarchs.
"And yet, I could feel them," she said. "They were brought to life in this painting that I saw."
The Republican governor joked that she had to vet Fujii first.
"I said, ‘Well, I want to meet her first,’" she said. "I have to make sure she’s not a big Democrat or something."
Fujii is from South Korea and has lived in Hawaii since the 1970s. She has a gallery in Chinatown and is known mostly for her landscape paintings. She said that while it is ideal for the subject to sit for a portrait, her handful of meetings with the governor helped her interpret Noyle’s photograph. She painted the portrait over seven weeks this year.
The commission was a greater opportunity than "any artist could ever ask for," Fujii said. "It was God’s blessing."
The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts said it is the first official portrait of a governor done by a local artist since Gov. John Burns’ portrait. The Lingle administration said the Lingle portrait will hang next to the portrait of Gov. George Ariyoshi in the ceremony room at the Capitol.
Lingle, the first Republican governor in 40 years when she was elected in 2002, leaves office Dec. 6 after two four-year terms.