Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 23, 2012

Portrait of an arts supporter

Project garners $6,000 for TSO

From staff reports

TRAVERSE CITY — Arts patron Elnora Milliken has been immortalized in a portrait by Traverse City artist Bill Hosner.

Milliken's daughter Penny placed the winning bid to commission a portrait of her mother during a summer auction to benefit Traverse Symphony Orchestra.

Known for her role in founding TSO and Old Town Playhouse, Milliken sat for the artist in five sessions. Hosner said that while many artists do portraits from pictures, he doesn't.

"All of my work is done from life," he said.

And life is what he got from the moment he went to meet with Milliken for the first session.

"I didn't know him that well ahead of time, and I knew he was a wonderful artist," Milliken said. "He said, 'I'm just going to do you from the waist up, and I said without thinking, 'Do you want me dressed or undressed?' He was startled."

"She's got quite a sense of humor," Hosner said. "She was teasing me. We got a good laugh out of that."

It was the beginning of Hosner's discovery into the persona of Milliken as he painted her both as she appears now, but with the picture that's on her piano of her as a young woman, newly graduated from college, also included in the portrait.

And the artist was pleased with the results.

"She's an eloquent person," he said. "I think it brings that across quite well."

An unveiling party was recently held at Hosner's Traverse City studio, and the portrait will soon hang in Milliken's home.