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It is a conundrum.  The reason MASON looks up the portrayal objects themselves before portrayals registered for them was efficiency: otherwise every time an object was drawn it'd be one or more hash lookups.  Is this a big deal?  Probably not any more. 

I have made a new trial version of sim.portrayal.FieldPortrayal which permits an "alternate portrayal ordering" where the hash lookups are checked before the objects themselves are used. You could try this version and see how it goes; I'd prefer not to commit it before it's been tested.

Sean