Betty Roberts was the first woman to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals. In 1977, Governor Robert Straub appointed her to the Oregon Court of Appeals, where she served with distinction for five years. In 1982, Governor Victor Atiyeh appointed her to the Oregon Supreme Court, where she served until she retired in 1986.
Many of the men who served as Oregon Supreme Court justices are memorialized in portraits on display in the Oregon Supreme Court Building. This project was dedicated to accomplishing the same for Justice Betty Roberts. Through donor funding, Justice Roberts’ portrait will soon join those of her predecessors in the Oregon Supreme Court Building – a powerful gesture of long overdue recognition.
Justice Roberts’ portrait was designed by renowned lithographer and painter, Lynda Lanker. Ms. Lanker is a local artist with an unparalleled talent for portraiture. She has devoted her career to painting women, focusing specifically on depicting and preserving the spirit of women ranchers and cowgirls. For her latest series, Ms. Lanker spent 19 years traveling throughout the western United States interviewing and creating portraits of western heroines. Oregon Public Broadcasting’s (OPB) program “Oregon Artbeat” covered Lynda’s series; you can see some of her work on OPB’s website. Ms. Lanker’ also had her “Tough by Nature” art work hosted by the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon.
For Justice Roberts’ portrait, Ms. Lanker chose to use stone lithography, a painting technique that applies ink impressions from a carefully etched stone. This technique allows production of lithographic prints that will rival an original painting in terms of detail, mood and shade variations.
Betty Roberts’ family and the Portrait Committee are excited by the power of Ms. Lanker’s portraits, and by her ability to convey her subjects’ depth of personality and strength of character. We cannot think of a better subject for her talents than Justice Betty Roberts.
Many individual and company donors were a part of the project to create this historical and visual reminder of the legacy of Betty Roberts. They made it possible to complete her portrait and bring the community together in a celebration of her extraordinary life.
The portrait was unveiled at a special event Portraits of Possibilities: Women at Work, at the Hatfield US Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, on February 13, 2015.