This snapshot from today’s Oregonian holds high and fantastic irony. From the worst – to the best.

The people in this photo, taken in the Salem state capital, are stupid horrible tobacco lobbyists. The painting of former Governor Tom McCall is by Henk Pander. It is, perhaps, one of the great paintings made in Oregon, of a great Oregonian, made by a master artist who found Oregon his true home.

Henk was experimenting with forced perspectives at the time this painting was made. The frame starts about four feet off the floor (and set in the weirdest room in Oregon where vertigo is just a step away), and McCall’s extended hand to you is both a handshake and an offer to help lift you off the floor and up to his level. His hand is an invitation to join, to be an Oregonian. More irony? Perhaps truth.

Henk talked with McCall prior to making the painting. I imagine Perspectives of Mount Hood was finished by then.

McCall’s hair is tousled and he’s dressed in a stylish 1970’s light tan suit with smart brown dress shoes, one on sand and one in the ocean. He’s smiling amidst the chaos of the background. A red and white pole is the measurement of the all important Beach Bill of 1967 – the law which made all Oregon’s ocean beaches open to the public. The survey helicopter. The ancient stump. The rocks and trees and wild blue sky.

As we look back forty years, the Beach Bill was the standout innovative Oregon legislative action which made our state beautiful and free. The other firsts, to decriminalize marijuana, the bottle bill, aid in dying, have all had their own struggles for acceptance elsewhere. Now no one imagines an ocean beach can be owned by an individual.

From Choices that Created the Oregon Mystique: Governor Tom McCall’s Foresight and Accomplishments.

This life size portrait of McCall, painted by Henk Pander in 1982, was commissioned by the State of Oregon. It is displayed with portraits of other former Oregon governors in the Oregon State Capitol in Salem. The scene portrays McCall’s highly publicized tour of the Oregon coast on May 13, 1967, when he and a team of surveyors and scientists traveled in two helicopters, touching down on beaches along the coast to demonstrate the threat posed to the public’s longstanding free access to the state’s coastline. Media coverage of the event prompted a huge outcry from the public over the legislature’s refusal to approve HB 1601, and within two months, McCall was able to sign the the bill into law. (81″x 72-1/2″)

Well worth reading is Brent Walth’s Fire at Eden’s Gate, “An impetuous, flamboyant, imposing, and outrageous showman, Oregon Governor Tom McCall fascinated America as a refreshingly candid and forthright politician.”

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