erwach, Crain News Service
Artist Gary Ciccarelli knows for certain his latest work is worth money, will increase in value and will be saved in bank vaults and shoe boxes for years to come.
Mr. Ciccarelli was selected by the U.S. Treasury as the illustrator for its latest series of U.S. Savings Bonds, the first time the Treasury went outside its agency for artwork on a bond series. The Series I inflation-indexed bonds go on sale in September.
The new designs, unveiled this month by Vice President Al Gore, feature portraits and montage illustrations of a diverse group of eight famous Americans who never have been featured on currency, including Helen Keller, Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr.
"It's a pretty big deal," said Dick Rutt, a Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based artist representative who submitted the work of Ciccarelli and several other artists in the nationwide search for an illustrator.
He noted that Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin made the final decision to go with Ciccarelli's work after staffers reviewed the many candidates.
Said Pete Hollenbach, public affairs officer for the U.S. Bureau of Public Debt: "We looked at a lot of portraits, and we wanted the very realistic look that Gary does."
Mr. Ciccarelli of Dearborn, Mich., has been a commercial artist for more than 25 years.
For the Treasury job, he was paid on a per-portrait basis as he worked over nine months on eight portraits and eight montage illustrations.
Asked whether his signature would appear on the bonds along with his work, he chuckled and said, "I wish."