WASHINGTON — As a congressman, United Nations ambassador and Howard University alumnus, Andrew Young has spent more time than most in Washington, D.C.
Now Young — or at least a giant likeness of him — will be in Washington permanently.
The National Portrait Gallery on Monday officially agreed to add a painting of Young by Atlanta artist Rossin as part of its collection.
“It’s a humbling honor,” Young said.
Young, 78, a former top aide to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., served three terms in Congress before President Jimmy Carter appointed him U.N. ambassador, a post he filled from 1977 to 1979. Young later served two terms as mayor of Atlanta and was co-chairman of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.
Atlanta artist Rossin is known for his photograph-like oil paintings. His portrait of Andrew Young is his first in the National Portrait Gallery.
The selection of his portrait was driven in part by another fellow Carter aide and Atlantan, Jack Watson, who is chairman of the gallery’s committee of directors.
Artist Rossin, whose full name is Rossen Raytchev Raykov, is known for his photographlike oil paintings of famous individuals. His works include portraits of Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Jackie Kennedy and Barbie, the doll. The Bulgarian-born artist also is known for a painting depicting 18 U.S. presidents from the 20th century seated together at the White House.
Rossin completed the 4-square-foot portrait of Young about six months ago and submitted it to the portrait gallery for inclusion. He said he made Young’s portrait for free after becoming friends with the former politician and diplomat.
“He is a living legend who commands respect, yet he is as friendly and approachable as can be,” Rossin said. “That’s unique … and that’s exactly the complex expression I tried to capture.”
The painting is just the latest memorial to Young. There is a statue of him in Atlanta’s Walton Spring Park, and bearing his name are one of Atlanta’s major thoroughfares and the school of public policy at Georgia State University.
“You know, I drive down the streets of Atlanta and I see Andrew Young International Boulevard … and then there’s this 8-foot statue in this park … and I think that’s all impressive, but I don’t even think of that as me,” Young said, chuckling.
“It’s surreal,” he said. “I don’t know how to relate to it. … It’s a tremendous honor, but it doesn’t make me think any more or less of myself.”