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Utrecht artists can draw the city's ex-mayor and win 10,000 euros

Utrecht artists can draw the city's ex-mayor and win 10,000 euros

All participants will receive a financial compensation for their efforts

Professional artists living in Utrecht are invited to join a somewhat unusual sketching session – with former mayor Jan van Zanen. As a result, they will produce no fewer than 40 sketches of him which will later be put on public display.

The endeavour might sound a bit unconventional in the digital era, but it is actually quite attractive. The reason being not only financial, as there is the chance to win 10 thousand euros, but also the possibility to become part of a century-old tradition.

An honourable service, for an honourable man

Artists from Utrecht, the fourth-largest city in The Netherlands, are invited to make a portrait of the previous city mayor Jan van Zanen (2014-2020). It has been a tradition in Utrecht since 1903 for the mayor to be immortalized in a portrait after the end of his/her term, as the city website informs. In the end, the produced artworks will be displayed in the portrait gallery at the entrance of the City Hall next spring.

Up to 40 local artists can join in two sketching sessions with the participation of the former mayor, which will take place on 13 October. Once the sessions are over, a jury, consisting of other professional artists, municipal representatives and van Zanen himself, will determine the winner at the end of November. The selected candidate will be commissioned to make the portrait, based on the sketches, and will meet Jan van Zanen personally to get to know him better.

Moreover, the winning candidate will receive 10,000 euros, while everyone else who submitted a sketch will be given a compensation of 220 euros. Everyone can see their works displayed in the City Hall next spring if they want to.

The first 40 applicants will be accepted to the competition, as long as they live in the municipality of Utrecht and apply by 1 November. The final form of the portrait is still open: it can be either a painting, a drawing, a graphic work, a photograph or a sculpture, as long as the mayor’s image is recognisable.

Of course, there are some things to watch for. In particular, the former mayor wants to see the context of Utrecht integrated in his portrait, and the artwork may not be larger than 100 x 70 cm.

The mayors in The Netherlands have an honorary role, on top of their portfolio; they are not elected by citizens but are rather appointed by the national government for six-year terms. Furthermore, a mayor is expected to exercise his functions above party labels. Hence, being selected to make a portrait of him/her is one of the greatest responsibilities and honours a local artist might receive.

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