Portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver Created by David Lenz Installed May 9 at the National Portrait Gallery

May 9, 2009
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The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has commissioned a portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, from David Lenz, winner of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006. It is the first portrait commissioned by the museum of an individual who has not served as a President or First Lady. The painting was presented in a private ceremony as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection and installed May 9.

“I am thrilled to install this portrait of Mrs. Shriver; it is the culmination of the first Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and we look forward to many more,” said Martin E. Sullivan, director of the museum. “Additionally, we have added to our collection an individual who has provided people who are intellectually disabled opportunities to thrive in our society. Mrs. Shriver’s efforts have transformed the lives of individuals worldwide; millions of athletes in 180 countries participate annually in Special Olympics games.”

As part of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006 prize, the National Portrait Gallery commissioned a work from competition-winner Lenz. His painting of Shriver depicts her on the sand near her home in Cape Cod with five other individuals. They are, from left to right in the painting: Airika (pronounced “Erica”) Straka, Katie Meade, Andy Leonard, Loretta Claiborne, Shriver and Marty Sheets. Meade participates in Best Buddies programs; the rest are Special Olympics athletes. The group has storm clouds at their backs and they face the sun gleaming on the ocean. The sun is painted as if in the midst of a rare solar display.

“I chose to include the solar display to demonstrate the light of hope that is Mrs. Shriver’s work,” said Lenz. “She has led the world to be a more welcoming place for people with intellectual disabilities.”

This competition and prize were made possible by the generosity of the late Virginia Outwin Boochever, whose gift fosters the presentation of contemporary portraiture for the museum.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver
As executive vice president of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation and founder and honorary chairperson of Special Olympics, Shriver has been a leader in the worldwide struggle to improve and enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities for most of her life. She also serves on the board of directors of Best Buddies International, a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment.

Shriver has been recognized throughout the world for her advocacy and work. Included among her awards are the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award; the Legion of Honor; and the Prix de la Couronne Française. She holds 14 honorary degrees and was one of the first recipients of a sidewalk medallion on The Extra Mile Points of Light Volunteer Pathway in Washington, D.C.

Born in Brookline, Mass., the fifth of nine children of Joseph P. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Eunice Mary Kennedy received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition
The Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is a triennial event that invites figurative artists to submit entries in all media to be considered for prizes and display at the National Portrait Gallery. Finalists and winners for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2009 will be presented in an exhibition open Oct. 23 through Aug. 22, 2010.

National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.

The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000; (202) 633-5285 (TTY). Web site: npg.si.edu.

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