Grand Canyon and The Comey Rule

Grand Canyon Canvas Print
Formerly in the office of James Comey, former FBI Director, Grand Canyon National Park, Collection of James Comey

Below are screen shots from the new Showtime-CBS mini-series, “The Comey Rule”. My painting, “The Grand Canyon” was installed in The FBI DIrector’s office during his tenure. Here you will see a replica of the painting in the scenes from the show.

Every painting has a story. Some stories get a little more notice than others. This is the story of how my painting of the Grand Canyon found its way into former FBI Director James Comey’s Office and the CBS/Showtime TV show “The Comey Rule”. How it came to be that in December of 2014, returning from JFK with my two sons that had arrived on the red eye, I personally handed the wrapped painting over to the Director of the FBI, saying, “no peeking.”

Patrice Comey, James’s lovely wife, yes she really is as lovely as portrayed in the TV mini-series, and I met by circumstance. It started in my oral surgeon’s office. In 2013, I had to have a tooth extracted. The oral surgeon discovered that I was an artist and asked to purchase some prints of my work for his office. So I gathered some paintings that I thought most suitable and brought them to the oral surgeon’s office. I leaned the paintings against the chairs while I waited for the Dr. to have a look. One painting was “A Wednesday In August”. A woman in the waiting room, sitting directly across from the painting said, “I’ll buy that painting if the Dr. doesn’t”. To which I said, “he is buying prints so if you’d like the painting it’s yours.” She agreed on the price and asked if I could deliver it that day. So shortly after, I found myself dropping off “A Wednesday In August” within the confines of a large wrap-around fence. Noting to myself that the fence was a little over the top. At this juncture I did not realize who Patrice Comey was and why the fence was necessary. A few months later Patrice contacted me to purchase a painting for her husband’s office. I remember thinking to myself that I hoped his office had some visibility. Patrice arrived at my home studio to view the “Grand Canyon” in person after choosing it from my website. She showed me a question from the TV show “Jeopardy” on her smartphone. “Who is the 6’8″ Director of the FBI?”. The answer, that I didn’t know until that moment, was her husband James Comey. This was late fall 2014, Comey was still new to the job serving the Obama administration.

In the spring of 2015 Patrice called me about a third painting, this one was a commission of her favorite view of DC from the Memorial Parkway. Just after completing my MFA in May I began the commission. After working steadily on it for several months I put the final push on it, painting through the night into the early morning hours, to finish the painting to my satisfaction before delivery. I sent over a photo in the early morning hours hoping for Patrice’s approval. She was disappointed at first because she was hoping for blue skies. I had painted the scene at sunrise with storm clouds, a metaphor for the challenges that the Comey’s family would be up against in helping defend the free world. There was plenty of unrest but the true storm of a Trump White House was yet to unfold.  I brought the finished painting, still wet, to Patrice latter that morning, which was her final moving day. The last piece of her Connecticut home to bring down to DC. As it turned out, the DC from the Memorial Parkway painting served as a backdrop for James Comey August 2020 interview on “Face the Nation”. Read more about this on my Blog

Fast forward to fall of 2019. I received an email from a production scout from CBS. I was visiting a friend at the time and asked her to read the email to get her opinion as to whether or not it seemed legit. That is the problem with all the spam email that I receive about my art, especially the one that I receive repeatedly,” I was just looking over my wife’s shoulder and she loves your work” in broken English…but I digress. After we deemed it legit I responded to the email. They were requesting a replica print of the “Grand Canyon” for a show that was in production, working name, “A Higher Loyalty” adapted from Comey’s book. The only issue was that they were shooting the scene in less than a week and of course my large format printer was running extremely low on two cartridges of ink. I was able to get one cartridge in time but not the other so I only had one shot at making the print. Usually it takes some doing to get the colors to perfectly match the original. The colors turned out OK but they were a little saturated and the black had laid down a bit too dark. Out of time I sent it on to the production company. Which brings us to this week and the finished production of “Comey’s Rule”. As difficult as it was to relive those moments in history, for Comey as well as our nation, it was flattering to see my work portrayed in such a manner.

The painting itself is from one of our revered National Parks, some of which are currently under threat under the current administration. I had made a visit to the Grand Canyon on my 50th birthday. My thinking being that a place formed over millions of years ago, would help me feel young as I turned a half-century old.

The show, “Comey’s Rule”, couldn’t be more timely for the 2020 election. Our country is a mere blip on the timeline of existence, lost in the zeros of estimation. Great civilizations and democracies have failed before us. Are we looking at our demise? Is there a chance to save our democracy, release it from the grasp of capitalism, lies and hate, from the brink of destruction and anarchy? To honor the many that have sacrificed for this country and the ideals for which it stands, not to be squandered?

1 thought on “Grand Canyon and The Comey Rule

  1. I am honored to know yiu, Jill, and hearing your varied stories of your artwork is so fascinating. You had such
    a direct connection as you were fifty while the “Canyon”
    – only one and it is indeed GRAND – was millions of
    years in existence but also underwent slow but exquisitely powerful change. I also felt the urgency to provide stormy brewed skies over DC – apt & appropriate. Your MFA is shining brightly – continue forward !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *