Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to the Capitol today for the first time since leaving office as governor nearly four years ago to unveil his official – and massive – executive portrait.
“My seven years as governor were the most fulfilling years that I’ve ever had in my life,” Schwarzenegger said before revealing the painting, by Austrian-Irish artist Gottfried Helnwein. “I did not accomplish everything that was on my to-do list, but I don’t think any governor ever does.”
“You did a hell of a lot,” Brown said. “Just like everyone else, you have your flaws, you have your critics, but I think today was very special for celebrating the bipartisan continuity of our common commitment…”
The big painting — it’s about seven feet long by five feet wide — will be the largest official portrait hanging on the walls of the state Capitol. That seemed fitting for the movie star governor, who today brought a media blitz with him not seen in the building’s corridors since he left office.
An array of California politicos attended the event, including State Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, a former Assembly Speaker; and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Before arriving for the portrait unveiling, which took place in the Capitol rotunda, Schwarzenegger spoke at a climate change conference hosted by the University of Southern California Schwarzenegger Institute and the Air Resources Board at the California Environmental Protection Agency building.
And in introducing his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown highlighted the two men’s bipartisanship cooperation in combating the effects of climate on California.
“You did a hell of a lot,” Brown said. “Just like everyone else, you have your flaws, you have your critics, but I think today was very special for celebrating the bipartisan continuity of our common commitment to protecting our climate, or environment, and our great California.”
The 38th governor, who was elected in 2003 after the recall of Gov. Gray Davis, moved to the United States from his native country Austria when he was 21 to pursue a bodybuilding career in California. What came of that ambition is history now.
Schwarzenegger said not in his “wildest dreams” had he ever envisioned one day he would be elected governor. “Or that one day there would be a portrait hanging here in the state Capitol,” he said. “I might have envisioned a sculpture on Muscle Beach, or in Hollywood – on their walk of fame – maybe my hand prints and my foot prints, or something like that.”