The cost of hand-painted Salt Lake City mayoral portraits has risen significantly over the last two decades with outgoing Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s painting expected to cost about $35,000.
That budgeted taxpayer cost being considered by the Salt Lake City council for the Biskupski portrait is an increase from the $30,000 spent for the portrait of her predecessor, Ralph Becker. And it’s more than double the $15,000 for the portrait of Deedee Corradini, according the city’s chief financial officer Mary Beth Thompson, the Deseret News reported. Corradini was mayor from 1992-2000.
The cost of the portraits has increased because of inflation, materials and artist fees, Thompson said.
None of the council members objected to the cost at a work session last month. Councilwoman and Mayor-elect Erin Mendenhall asked if the amount was enough. The council is scheduled to vote on the cost at Tuesday’s meeting.
The city has been doing mayoral portraits for more than a century dating back to the mid-1800s. They line the walls in a hallway at city hall.
“It’s a tradition that’s been happening for decades,” Biskupski spokesman Matthew Rojas said. “There’s a portrait of every single mayor that has served Salt Lake City.”
Mayors can choose the artist they want to do their portrait. Biskupski is considering renowned Russian artist Galina Perova, who did the paintings of Corradini and former mayor Rocky Anderson.
Perova has also done portraits of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, University of Utah President Arthur Smith and Hinckley Institute Director Kirk Jowers.
Perova says her fees have increased because of inflation, rising material cost and because her reputation has grown since she painted past Anderson.
“I grow every year,” Perova said.
She said she spends hours with the people she paints to get to know their mannerisms and environment. She said she charges less for portraits of public officials because she feels honored to create paintings with historical significance.