Bradley Stevens Paints Washington’s Interior

Like the rest of President Obama’s cabinet, Sally Jewell is gone.

But — at least in the Department of Interior’s Washington, DC office — she will never be forgotten.

That’s because her portrait now hangs there, alongside her 50 predecessors.

It’s a non-traditional painting. And it’s of “06880” interest because the artist is Staples Class of 1972 graduate Bradley Stevens.

A Wrecker basketball star (and rock guitarist) who earned both a BA and MFA from George Washington University in 1976, Stevens is one of America’s leading realist painters. His work — depicting Vernon Jordan, Allen Iverson, Felix Rohatyn, Senator Mark Warner, and dozens of other politicians, financiers, educators, judges and sports figures — hangs in the Smithsonian, US Capitol, State Department, Mount Vernon and Monticello.

Bradley Stevens, at work in his studio. (Photo/GW Magazine)

Bradley Stevens, at work in his studio. (Photo/GW Magazine)

His Sally Jewell commission came on the recommendation of collectors of his work in Seattle, who knew her. Her previous job was CEO of REI, based in that city.

Last April, Stevens met the secretary at Interior headquarters. Over the next 8 months, as he worked on the portrait, they met many times in his studio.

Stevens hiked with Jewell in the Cascades. “Luckily,” he says, the experienced outdoorswoman — who has climbed Antarctica’s highest peak — “chose a more moderate mountain.”

He posed her on the Manassas battlefield in Virginia — near Stevens’ home — at sunrise, to get the right light.

“It’s not your typical government portrait,” Stevens says. “The landscape plays a prominent role in the composition.”

But, he says, because as head of the National Park Service — and because of her love of the outdoors — he thought it was important to paint her in front of Mt. Rainier. It’s an iconic image of her home town, and she’s reached its summit 7 times.

Jewell — who as secretary helped expose underprivileged young people to the environment — asked Stevens to include Youth Conservation Corps volunteers on the trail behind her.

In the portrait, she wears silver tribal jewelry. That symbolizes her efforts to protect Native American sacred lands.

Sally Jewell's official portrait, by Bradley Stevens.

Sally Jewell’s official portrait, by Bradley Stevens.

The painting was unveiled at the Department of the Interior on January 13. There was a big ceremony, with many speakers.

Stevens says, “It was an honor to get to know Secretary Jewell. She is passionate and driven about her work protecting our nation’s lands.”

She is also “a humble and self-effacing public servant. It was never about attracting attention to herself. Her focus was solely on doing the right things for the environment. This experience restored my faith in government.”

President Trump has nominated Montana congressman Ryan Zinke to replace Jewell. A frequent voter against environmentalists on issues ranging from coal extraction to oil and gas drilling, he received a 3 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters.


25 responses to “Bradley Stevens Paints Washington’s Interior

  1. Informative information until you used your pulpit to express your liberal political views. Not a Trump supporter but your last statements were undeserving of this usually enjoyable blog

    • Couldn’t agree more! I tired of the
      politicization of seemingly
      everything long ago. Too bad to see
      its infection here.

    • Peter; This is Dan’s blog.It’s tone and political orientation, left, reflect his preferences. No one comes here expecting fair and balanced. And they should not; the whole point of having your own blog is to express your views, or at least make them dominant. Dan’s political orientation was well known before he established 06880. This blog is extremely popular among the people of Westport, who are largely of the left. I think Dan has helped provide an important forum that would not exist were it not for his efforts; he deserves thanks.

      I do not know how long you have lived in Westport, but if you have not already, you will soon learn that everything is political.This was not the case 38 years ago, but it is now. Once upon a time, we had a brouhaha over cupcakes that was political at base, and played out, in large part on 06880. In a town that can muster arguments based on ideology for and against cupcakes one comes to expect the politicization of just about everything.

  2. I also agree with with Rod. I am so sorry to see your posts becoming so political Dan. I love reading the history of Westport. Why do you always have to insert your liberal views of everything?

  3. Bradley Stevens’ outstanding portrait of The Rev. John Branson can be seen in Branson Hall at Christ & Holy Trinity Church in Westport.

  4. Great story, Dan. Congratulations, Brad. When I ran into you years ago on the streets of Georgetown, D.C., and you told me you were an artist, I had no idea you were such an accomplished one. P.S. Whenever I drive by your first Westport house–the one on Roseville Road–I momentarily think of you. Memory is a funny thing, isn’t it?

  5. Put me down also as “tired” of the injection of politics into most all of your recent blogs. We all just have to move on and deal with it. Everywhere, we turn their is hateful and snarky politicization in the media. Afterall, it is your blog and you can do what you want but you strike me as someone capable of rising above this negative retoric. Do something different than the media…continue to tell good stories, about good people and good place as they relate to 06880. Face it…those stories are much better and a lot more inclusive. If people want to hear some talking heads they can turn to MSNBC, FOX, NYT, or the Wall Street Journal and find plenty of it there.

    • Thanks for your latest post Dan. It reminded me to send off my membership renewals to the League of Conservation Voters and Greenpeace. Having a President who regards climate change as a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to undermine our economy” is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awaken.
      Keep up the good fight.
      ADW Staples 1956

    • Thanks, Peter, Rod, Diane and Jamie. The previous 10 posts were on the secret donation of books to the LL farm stand; Friday Flashback; George Subkoff Antiques closing; 2 Staples grads who formed YouLobby; Westport’s “Day Without Immigrants,” utility wires downtown; proper tree maintenance; Remembering Mike “Wolfie” COnnors; death of a Staples grad in an automobile accident, and the saving of the little red house on Belden Place.

      So yes, 2 of those could be considered “liberal” (although the YouLobby story is in the line of highlightlng Staples grads’ accomplishments, and the immigrant story tied in to a national one). The rest are “everything else.”

      I continue to welcome all points of view. When I asked Westporters to send me photos and stories of their trips to Washington, to for the inauguration, I got one response. When I asked for the same for the march the next day, I got dozens. I’ve done stories on Staples grads working for conservative congressmen, and often post Bart Shuldman’s tax stories though I disagree with most of his premises.

      Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep engaged. And I will too.

      • Dan, please do not ever self censor.

        • While I will always stand up for anyone’s right to freely express their opinion, including commenters on this blog, I’m fairly shocked to see so many take issue with Dan exercising his own right to free speech. An “infection” of liberal political views? He’s simply citing the factual statement that Montana congressman Ryan Zinke has a 3% rating from the League of Conservation Voters, an advocacy group with 2 million members. I think it adds to the “informative information” typically found in 06880, especially when you compare the incoming Interior Secretary’s 3% rating against the 90+% average LCV rating of Connecticut’s congressional members, who we elected to speak for us. ( Neither the free press nor facts are our enemy, and I find it deeply troubling to feel the need to defend Dan’s right to say what he wants to in his own blog.

  6. I think Dan was merely stating a fact and juxtaposing the achievements of the outgoing Secretary with the position of the incoming one.
    There are some aspects of the changes the new administration wants to make that can be reversed by the next one – fiscal policy or health care for example. The environment and the destruction of our land heritage are not in that category – once they are gone they are gone so, along with Scott Pruett at the EPA I believe that Ryan Zinke’s policies need to be known and challenged as necessary. Protecting the environment and public health is not a partisan issue – how can one side be in favor of destroying something that all have to use – air, water, land. Pollution induced asthma in our children does not decide which political party their parents belong to – poisoned water in Flint did not only pollute Democrats.
    This is not a liberal view – its a human view – which I hope the majority of Westporters support.

  7. Werner Liepolt

    We have more than our fair share of notable artists, and this piece is an awfully nice way to get the story behind Brad’s work on Sally Jewells’ portrait.
    (Too bad Chas Addams isn’t still around for Zinke.)

  8. Zinke’s really stinky !
    You go, Dan !

  9. Jo Ann Davidson

    Brad Stevens’ mother is Doris Stevens, who taught in several Westport schools, ending in Bedford Middle School. She now lives in Ohio, but returns to Westport to visit friends and see the changes.

  10. Christine Barth

    Dan reported a fact at the end of the article; he didn’t slant it one way or another. Interpreting that as “politicizing” seems overly sensitive.

  11. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    We are truly blessed to have such a fine portrait painter, who came from Westport, who has paid tribute to some of our country’s leaders, among others. Thank you, Dan Woog, for pointing that out.

  12. Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

    I found Dan’s article interesting, informative and yet another connection to the over the top achievements of Staples grads. I did not even read anything into the last paragraph other than information. Several of President Trump’s appointments and nominations to positions do seem curious. I am always happy to read and hear from both sides and hen make up my own mind. Keep the information coming Dan. A Free Press and the first amendment to the Constitution are important and should not be taken for granted. I can remember a time when most people who were in elected office understood that they were Public Servants and were humbled by the responsibility and the trust people put in them. Thoes days seem to be slipping away.

  13. Susan von Schenk

    Dan, I want to thank you for the lovely article about my brother. Brad has had a remarkable career and has met and worked with many interesting people, but I know that Sally Jewell was one of his favorites. As his sister, I’m allowed some bragging rights—-his landscapes are also gorgeous!

  14. Margaret Hart Rynshall

    That painting is incredible and the story about Bradley’s painting process is fascinating. Thanks for posting it, Dan. And please, keep posting whatever you want.

  15. Yes, please keep posting whatever you want, Dan. I love this blog.

  16. Dorothy Fincher

    Mr. Stevens also painted the remarkable portrait of our own Reverend John Branson at Christ and Holy Trinity Church.