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Innovative portrait of Washington unveiled in Mahoning Courthouse today

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

YOUNGSTOWN

U.S. founding father George Washington towered astride a white horse Wednesday afternoon in the Mahoning County Courthouse rotunda.

His likeness, part of a detailed allegorical painting titled “Divine Providence,” was the work of local painter Ray Simon. That painting will soon change how students learn about the first U.S. president, Simon said.

“What a portrait of history we have here,” said Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, as local veterans and politicians gathered for a first look at the painting, which had its formal unveiling in the historic courthouse, but will not remain there.

Simon said the 7-foot-tall portrait, which uses allegorical symbols to portray Washington’s life and the founding of the nation, was “the hardest painting he’s ever done.”

Under direction of the painting’s “wealthy” underwriter, Simon also spent two months working with historical curators and an archivist in Mount Vernon, Va., and even stayed a night at Washington’s estate, he said.

The painting will become a permanent fixture at the George Washington Presidential Library and Museum in Mount Vernon by early next year – possibly in time for Washington’s Feb. 22 birthday, Simon said.

But it’s for more than just wall-hanging. A multimedia element allows students to hunt for dozens other metaphors pertaining to Washington’s life and the Revolutionary War that are hidden within the painting, and hear narrations about their meanings which meet national history education standards, Simon said.

Read more about this innovative artwork in Thursday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.