As an artist who has had the incredible honor of working for the United States Senate, I had the pleasure of meeting Senator Kennedy on two occasions in the last couple of years. The first was after he introduced me at the unveiling of my portrait of Senator Robert Byrd. I was immediately impressed with his approachable nature and genuine interest in others.
A few months later, his office phoned to request a photo of my portrait of Senator Byrd. Senator Kennedy wanted to frame the image along with several mementoes including a handwritten note by his brother President John Kennedy and an autograph by his brother Bobby. The collage was a gift for Byrd’s 90th birthday.
I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to the event and enjoyed Senator Kennedy’s remarks as master of ceremonies. In closing the festivities, he presented the gift to Byrd. Afterward, I spoke to Senator Kennedy and thanked him for including my portrait in such a special way. Once again I found him to be totally charming, engaging, and well versed in the art of portraiture. He had painted a bit himself and was a devoted art lover and collector.
When I learned early last year of his illness, I created a sketch of him on a small canvas panel and sent it as a sort of “get-well card”.
Although I often refer to my career as having only just begun, when I think of the many opportunities I have been given to meet such historical figures as Senator Edward Kennedy, I am truly amazed and grateful. I was impressed to find a man of such great power, talent and influence exercise grace and genuine curiosity in a young artist’s work.