Mayor Brandon Scott is looking for a few good artists.
The Scott administration is seeking artists to paint portraits of Baltimore mayors who aren’t represented in the Hyman Aaron Pressman Board Room at City Hall, where the Board of Estimates (BOE) meets and portraits of city mayors have traditionally been displayed.
Tonya Miller Hall, Senior Advisor of Arts and Culture in the Mayor’s Office, told a meeting of Scott’s newly-formed Arts and Culture Advisory Committee this week that the city plans to issue a Request for Proposals from artists who would like to paint one of the portraits.
“We are going to start to commission the mayors’ portraits,” she said. “There are five mayors that are not represented in the BOE room.”
Over the years, the second-floor Pressman room has become a veritable gallery of mayoral portraits, with 27 in the main board room and the anteroom leading to it, and space for more on the north wall of the main room.
The last mayor to have a portrait painted for display in City Hall is Martin O’Malley, the city’s chief executive from 1999 to 2007. Since then, mayors have included Sheila Dixon (2007 to 2010); Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (2010 to 2016); Catherine Pugh (2016 to 2019); Bernard C. “Jack” Young (2019 to 2020) and Scott, whose term began in 2020.
Miller Hall said she has asked Baltimore-based artist Ernest Shaw Jr. to work with her to prepare a Request for Proposals that will be issued as part of the search for artists. She said a jury will be formed to review the responses, and she indicated that different artists will be commissioned to paint portraits of the different mayors.
In addition to commissioning new portraits, Miller Hall said, the city is currently digitizing the portraits of all of Baltimore’s past mayors.
Since Baltimore’s incorporation as a city in 1797, the office of Mayor has changed hands 62 times, with 53 different individuals in office. The portraits in the BOE room don’t include any of the women who have served as Baltimore’s mayor and only two of the seven African Americans who have served as mayor, Clarence “Du” Burns (1987 to 1987) and Kurt Schmoke (1987 to 1999).