SACRAMENTO (AP) — Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lifted the curtain on his official portrait on Monday, revealing a photograph-like giant image of the onetime bodybuilder standing in front of the official California seal.
Schwarzenegger revealed the portrait at a ceremony in the state Capitol in which he made a rare appearance in Sacramento nearly four years after he left office.
The portrait, which will eventually hang on the third floor, was done by Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein, a realist who previously illustrated Andy Warhol and John F. Kennedy.
Schwarzenegger, a movie star before he ran for governor in the chaotic recall election of 2003, said he owes all his successes in life to California, which he called a mythical place “where nothing is impossible.” As a boy growing up in Austria, he dreamed about the state, he said.
“I dreamt about California every day, and I knew that one day I would have to come here to this beautiful state if I wanted to make my dreams a reality,” he said.
Schwarzenegger said that while he always dreamed big, he never envisioned his portrait hanging in the state Capitol, joking “I might have envisioned a sculpture on Muscle Beach.”
Two of Schwarzenegger’s five children attended the unveiling, Christopher, 16, and Patrick, 20, which also included political notables including at least three former speakers of the state Assembly, Willie Brown, Bob Hertzberg and Fabian Nunez.
It followed an event earlier Monday in which Schwarzenegger’s University of Southern California-based institute hosted a climate symposium that also featured Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat.
The seminar, titled “Lessons from California,” highlighted the state’s aggressive efforts to tackle issues such as reducing carbon emissions.
“While the politicians in Washington can’t get anything done because of being stuck in these ideological foxholes, we here in California have two governors from two different parties, together in the same room fighting for the same green energy future,” Schwarzenegger said at the summit.
Organizers are using the state’s policies to prompt further action ahead of United Nations climate-change conferences in Peru and Paris.
During his tenure, Schwarzenegger signed California’s landmark 2006 global-warming law, called AB32, which paved the way for the state’s cap-and-trade system for controlling greenhouse-gas emissions by the worst polluters.
Monday’s gathering featured research experts, businesses executives from Apple Inc. and UPS Inc., as well as actor-activist Ed Begley Jr.
Schwarzenegger said that California leaders of all political stripes have chosen to address climate change because not doing so will cost much more in the long run in things such as state infrastructure at risk of failure because of flooding, increased heat- and pollution-related deaths, and a never-ending wildfire season that stretches state budgets.
As governor, Schwarzenegger had promised to bring fiscal accountability, but the state faced a huge budget deficit when he left office. Brown has been credited with passing a tax increase, cutting services and bringing the budget back in balance.
In one of his final acts in office, Schwarzenegger commuted the involuntary-manslaughter sentence of the son of Nunez, a former political ally.
Months after Schwarzenegger left office, embarrassing revelations emerged about an affair he had with his maid that resulted in a son born out of wedlock. The disclosure devastated his marriage to Maria Shriver, and the two are separated.
Since then, Schwarzenegger has largely committed to a Hollywood comeback. He appeared in this summer’s “The Expendables 3,” and he returns to his cyborg assassin character in a new “Terminator” film due out next year.
Schwarzenegger previously told The Associated Press that he has no plans to run for elected office again. “I never wanted to be a career politician,” he said.
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