Portraits of the Palette 2016
Terry Firkins, "Dad"
An exhibition of portraits is a real workout for the fusiform face area (FFA) , the area in the brain that performs facial recognition. It makes for a fascinating show at the Palette and Chisel because there is such a variety of style.
What is especially fascinating about this iteration is the appearance of two new members who offer even more variety.
Terry Firkins offers this quotation on his website :
"There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun."
Contrasting naturalism with expressionism, that quote is a good fit for the first decades of the 20th Century - as well as for the Palette and Chisel a hundred years later.
Firkins makes Mom and Dad come alive on the canvas. It's quite an achievement.
(and check out his website -- he appears to be an exciting Abstract Expressionist as well)
Terry Firkins, "Mom"
Another title might be "Mother Courage"
Terry Firkins, "Burial of Ring"
It may not be "The Burial at Ornans" -- but I'm kind of missing poor old Ring now myself.
Just taking a wild guess here -- but these young men appear to be seeking some deeper meaning in their lives - and are being honored for it.
They express an inner openness -- a readiness to change.
They're good kids -- just a little lost.
On the other hand -- Stuart Fullerton's icy femme fatales belong in a Jane Austin novel where they can scheme to land the right husband.
The above three paintings, hanging beside each other, all have an unreal, shimmering quality.
But Stephanie's portrait also presents an indomitable personality.
I might call this my favorite painting in the show.
Helen told me that she made several drawings of this model - but all of the other attempts failed.
You might call it Classical -- being so much about elegance and design.
Jose Antonio Bedolla
This restraint, severity, and character seems to have come from Velasquez via Manet.
Misha is a very cheerful guy. Always fun to be around as he talks about hare brained ideas, Torah, and the classics of modern literature (now he's reading Moby Dick)
But as this self portrait from 1990 (lower left) reveals -- there's a fierce intensity underneath.
It's also reflected in his recent portrait of his daughter. She's a university professor -- and you better not turn in your assignments a day late.
Sometimes I wish that Mary's portraits were more about painting and less about the subject.
But she really does make the subject come alive - not just as himself, but also as he interacts with that intense woman holding the paint brush.
Recently, Tor began an open print making workshop for members in the basement studio. These linocuts are among the many examples he has been hanging on Palette and Chisel walls lately.
But why did he include the above zoological specimen in an exhibition of portraits?
"Does the subject have a name?" one sceptic inquired.
"Bird" answered Tor.
Possibly he is an animal rights activist.
Here's the other animal that made it into portrait show -- but only as a piece of haberdashery.
The strong volumes and subdued colors recall early Modernism.
Bodo's portrait of Tor is a bit scary -- but Tor does have his darker moments.