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Salt Lake City has commissioned an artist to paint former Mayor Palmer DePaulis, reserving him a spot beside other former mayors in the halls of the City-County Building.

The $10,000 price tag may be difficult for the city to take, especially at a time when it projects a $4.2 million shortfall by the end of its budget year in June. But city officials said the price is reasonable, as portraits go, and it is important to place DePaulis alongside the city's other leaders.Even DePaulis, who described himself as a reluctant subject, said the tradition is important. He said his staff and the city council convinced him to commission the work.

"I jokingly said, `Why don't you just hang up a photo,' and they said, `No! We have everyone else's portrait up there and we want yours,"' DePaulis said. "They got me to start sitting for the portrait before I left office. I think they were worried I wouldn't do it.

"If we decided not to do it, that would've raised much more of a hubbub."

Money for the portrait will come from the city's contingency funds.

The City Arts Council commissioned artist Randall Lake to do the work. He also painted former mayor Ted Wilson.

DePaulis, who left office in January, began sitting for the portrait in November. Lake said he is about three-quarters finished. DePaulis, who now works for a law firm, sits in a studio for two hours at a time whenever his schedule allows.

Nancy Boskoff, director of the Arts Council, said about a dozen artists submitted proposals, hoping to get the commission.

"I called a number of places to see what the market was for this kind of thing," Boskoff said, noting she learned the $10,000 commission, which includes the frame, is reasonable.

"The artist was the mayor's choice as well," she said.

Lake said he is depicting DePaulis seated on the edge of a desk, as if leading an informal meeting. The former mayor will be wearing a dark suit, and blueprints for the renovation of the City-County Building will be in the background. DePaulis considered the renovation a major accomplishment during his tenure.

The final portrait will measure 4 feet by 3 feet, slightly smaller than the one depicting Wilson, and much smaller than some of the older ones. Mayor R.N. Baskin, who served from 1892-95, has a full-length portrait more than 6 feet tall.

Twenty-seven portraits of former mayors hang on the third floor of the building. The earliest is of Jedediah M. Grant, mayor from 1851 to 1857.