Heard on the Hill: Work of Art

Posted April 28, 2009 at 6:56pm

Rep. Patrick Kennedy probably could commission any renowned artist in the world to create a personal portrait of him and his father. But the Rhode Island Democrat apparently favors the artistic talents of a man whose day job is keeping Capitol Hill safe.

[IMGCAP(1)]Wallace Simpson, a longtime House employee who helps guard the Speaker’s Lobby for the House Sergeant-at-Arms, created a special sketch depicting Kennedy and his father, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), on Inauguration Day. And Simpson created the artwork by personal request, he told HOH.

Kennedy spotted Simpson quietly sketching in the Speaker’s Lobby on a quiet afternoon a few months ago, and he asked if he could create a special portrait of him and his father, Simpson recalled.

Simpson obliged, and Kennedy gave Simpson a photograph of the duo at the inauguration to base his sketch on. It took about a week to complete.

Simpson actually created two sketches — giving the first to Kennedy and keeping the second for himself — but the artist was modest about his creation.

“I’m not where I want to be,— he said.

Simpson isn’t exactly an artistic novice — he worked as a graphic designer for 13 years before starting his now two-decade stint on Capitol Hill. He only recently started sketching again, telling HOH he finds it relaxing. “I’m still practicing. Some of them are OK to me. I’m really critical of myself,— Simpson said.

For his part, Kennedy praised Simpson’s artwork.

“I was deeply touched by Mr. Simpson’s kind gesture,— Kennedy said. “Inauguration Day held tremendous significance for me and my family, and his sketch is a thoughtful keepsake that will help to preserve the memories from a historic day.—

Better Off Wed. Rep. Linda Sánchez might have tied the knot with Jim Sullivan, her boyfriend and the father of the baby the couple is expecting next month — but there’s still no ring on her finger.

The California Democrat confirmed on Tuesday that she and Sullivan were wed at a tiny April 13 ceremony in Hartford, Conn. Sánchez spokeswoman Marsha Catron says the couple is waiting until after their baby is born to go ring shopping. “That’s going to have to wait — with pregnancy, her fingers aren’t exactly normal-sized,— she says.

The site for the wedding was a bit unusual: The ceremony took place in the office of Rep. John Larson (Conn.), the Democrat who introduced the couple (Sullivan once worked for Larson).

Larson, who performed part of the ceremony, downplayed his role in bringing about the love connection. “They are two people who were meant for each other,— he tells HOH. “It had very little to do with my matchmaking skills. EHarmony has nothing to worry about.—

Go to The Gym,’ Skip the Workout. Back in February, HOH told you about the casting call for a new television show set at a health club on Capitol Hill. Well, the cast is now lined up, but the show’s producers need help with the heavy lifting: raising money to produce the show.

“The Gym— is an improvisation-based sitcom centered on more than a dozen Washingtonians — including the show’s main character, a BlackBerry-addicted Congressional staffer — who work out at a dysfunctional exercise facility near the Capitol.

Creator Erika Grace Allen came up with the concept from her 20 years of working in the fitness industry. “Gyms are a haven for crazy, comedic material,— she said.

The cast, mostly a mix of talent from local theater groups, are filming the show’s pilot at the Results Gym at 315 G St. SE. Producers hope to submit the pilot to the New York Television Festival in June.

But the budget is tight — and so the cast will put on a special improvisational show tonight designed to raise funds to complete the pilot.

The cast will hit the stage at the D.C. Arts Center Theater for two 45-minute performances — one at 7:30 p.m. and another at 8:45 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door but can be purchased for $12 beforehand by e-mailing erikagraceallen@yahoo.com.

On the Money. Count Sen. Patrick Leahy among Capitol Hill’s good Samaritans.

HOH spotted Leahy entering the Russell Senate Office Building on Tuesday morning, patiently waiting for a colleague who, unlike the Vermont Democrat, needed to wait in line to go through the metal detector.

As he waited for his friend, Leahy noticed that another man had dropped some cash while taking some metal objects out of his pockets. “You dropped some money,— Leahy said, and the man quickly picked up the rumpled bills from the floor.

Leahy’s companion then made his way through the detector, and the pair went on their way.

A Kennedy Among Us. Apart from being American royalty by virtue of her name, Caroline Kennedy is back to being a commoner these days. HOH spotted the almost-Senate candidate on Tuesday, blending in with the citizenry whilst enjoying a late-afternoon drink on the patio of the Dubliner restaurant. Kennedy, hair swept back and sipping from a plastic party cup emblazoned with a Bud Light logo, was engaged in an animated conversation with another woman.

Kennedy, who briefly considered making a Senate run, had just wrapped up an event at the Phoenix Park Hotel announcing a new philanthropic fund from the American Federation of Teachers.

The Specter/Spector Spectrum. Democrats might be thrilled to have Sen. Arlen Specter join their ranks, but there are a few things they don’t know about the Pennsylvanian — like how to spell the guy’s name.

At least two Democratic Senators and one interest group misspelled Specter’s name (they opted for “Spector,— like music legend/murder suspect Phil Spector) in press releases reacting to word of Specter’s party switch.

“GILLIBRAND WELCOMES SENATOR SPECTOR TO DEMOCRATIC PARTY—

— The heading of the release sent by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). She misspelled his name repeatedly in the release.

“BROWN STATEMENT ON SENATOR SPECTOR—

— The release from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). Brown at least followed his oopsie of a release by a corrected version with the proper spelling.

“David Bonior Statement on Senator Spector—

— The statement from former Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.), now the chair of American Rights at Work.

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