Wednesday, December 5, 2018

An Honor to be the selected speaker at the Mark Twain Dinner at the Historic Lotos Club in New York


 On November 14th 2018, I had the  great honor of being the selected speaker for the members only  Mark Twain Dinner at the Historic Lotos Club in New York.  By speaking I was following in the footsteps of Hal Holbrook, Ken Burns and Dick Cavat, amongst many other celebrities that have spoken at this very special dinner…so, this was a great great honor for me and a delight to talk about one of my favorite subjects "Twain"! 
My talk told a very little known story about Mark Twain and his relationships during the last years of his life.


A wonderful Mark Twain Mask by Zenos Frudakis, a world renown sculptor
I was delighted to receive this beautiful Twain mask as a gift for talking at the event. Zenos is amazing...he captured Twain!!!!  This wonderful mask hangs in the Mark Twain Room at The Lobster Pot.

Portrait Commission to Paint the Governor of South Dakota, Dennis Daugaard

The commission to paint the Official Portrait of the Governor of South great honor!

The Unveiling of the Official Portrait of the Governor of South Dakota, Dennis Daugaard

 Governor of South Dakota, Dennis Daugaard, oil on linen 40 x 30

The Official Portrait of the Governor of South Dakota hanging at the Capital

The Governor looking at his Official Portrait


You nailed it!  This is perfect….You told me you would deliver the best portrait in the collection and I’m certain you have.

   Tony Venhuizen Chief of Staff
                                                           Governor Dennis Daugaard
                                                            Governor of South Dakota


What an honor and a pleasure it has been for me to have the opportunity to create the Official portrait of the Governor of South Dakota, Dennis Daugaard!

I was so happy that the portrait was so well received. The Governor was such a distinguished subject, plus a very poignant and powerful composition with the inclusion of the South Dakota Seal.

It was delightful for me to visit this beautiful state and to have an extra day to see the  historic Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, the Sitting Bull Memorial and atmospheric country side...along with many stately Buffalo!


My father was stationed at the Air force base in Rapid City during his years in training as a navigator during World War visiting a place that was near to his heart was also special for me.

The Washington Times on December 4th carried the unveiling. To see the article click on this below link: 

 Here is some links to news coverage of the unveiling:


Connecticut artist painted $20,000 Dennis Daugaard portrait
Sioux Falls Argus Leader Published 2:54 p.m. CT Dec. 5, 2018

(Photo: James Nord, AP)
Gov. Dennis Daugaard smiled when he saw the painting of himself for the first time, but he kept his comments short. "I think it's good," Daugaard said before taking a photo with his family and his new portrait hanging on the Capitol's wall.
Daugaard's official portrait, showing him standing in front of the Capitol's cornerstone, was unveiled by his three children following his final address to the Legislature Tuesday.
The idea to have Daugaard stand in front of the cornerstone in his portrait has been floating around for a few years. 
"It's a neat setting and it hasn't been used before in a governor's portrait," said Tony Venhuizen, Daugaard's chief of staff.
The cornerstone was chosen to symbolize Daugaard's commitment to the structural integrity of South Dakota's finances and facilities during his tenure, Venhuizen
Daugaard's portrait, which cost about $20,000, was funded by private donations from the governor's cabinet and staff, not taxpayers, Venhuizen said. A committee of Daugaard's friends, family and staff chose Connecticut painter Susan Boone Durkee  to complete the painting of Daugaard because of her past work in oil portraiture. 
The committee worked with the South Dakota Arts Council to get the word out about the portrait and about a dozen artists submitted proposals outlining their work experience, painting process and estimated cost and time to complete the portrait. The selection of an artist is subjective and they had several good artists apply, but Venhuizen said Susan Boone Durkee stood out and they're happy with how her portrait of Daugaard turned out. 
 Susan Boone Durkee traveled to South Dakota in the spring to scope out possible background settings for the painting before completing the painting in her studio in West Redding, Connecticut. Although his eight-year tenure is coming to an end, Daugaard's portrait will now have a permanent place among the portraits of the previous 31 South Dakota governors dating back to the state's first, Gov. Arthur Mellette, who began his term in 1889.
In an age when digital photos are now readily available of governors, hanging a new oil painting at the Capitol may seem like a quaint tradition, but Venhuizen said the paintings can inspire Capitol visitors to learn more about public figures who may not be easily remembered 100 years later. One of the Capitol's functions is to serve as a reminder of the state's history and its institutions, he added. 
"It helps us remember the people who came before us," he said.

To see more artwork by Susan Boone Durkee visit: