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This article was prepared for the December 12, 2001 edition
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Portraits: Literal, Fanciful
For as long as there has been mortality, narcissism,
and love, there have been portraits.
In 20th century Philadelphia, a trip through art history reveals
of all kinds, for all motives, from the Greeks and Romans to Andy
Warhol and Alice Neel. It may be an idealized marble bust or an
rendering on board, a tempera betrothal picture or a now-traditional
"boardroom-style" image of a captain of industry. Moving from
the sometimes sublime to the often ridiculous, it may be the annual
grade school picture, the driver license mug shot, the treasured
image of a loved one: portraits, all.
As the definition of "portrait" can vary with time, culture,
and maker, so the means of producing a likeness also changes. The
artist may concentrate on the subject’s external appearance, or try
to reflect internal topography. Neel, for instance, was said to paint
"character," rather than physical reality. The end result
may be literal, fanciful, suggestive; it may idealize or caricature
the subject; and it may or may not succeed in conveying character.
For even if a portrait realizes the artist’s vision, it may displease
or even horrify the subject.
Marsha Child closes the gallery year with a comprehensive exhibition,
"Facing the Truth: The Art of the Portrait," at her gallery
of international art in Princeton. Through 16 artists’ works, that
range from paintings, sculptures, and photography, to prints and
as well as "anamorphosis" — when two-dimensional art takes
on a third dimension — the genre of portraiture can be explored
and enjoyed at Marsha Child Contemporary, from now through January
Child confesses that even though portraiture is an old and respected
genre, it has never been that exciting to her. "I wanted to do
this show to prove to myself that it could be exciting and
with not just well-done works, but interesting ones," she says.
"The work constantly reveals new things. There’s so much
and psychology; it’s all very much about humanity."
For Child, a truly powerful portrait is both individual and universal.
For this panoply of portraits she drew on her gallery artists seeking
works that "capture, in a compelling way, the features of a
person or personality, but at the same time reveal insights into that
person’s inner landscape."
Most of the participating artists are native Europeans or were born
and educated in the former Soviet Union, although some live elsewhere
now. Many of the portraits are drawn from memory, or they are the
artists’ embellishments of other images that got them started; some
are idealized visions of a personality or a concept. Models, per se,
are rarities in the creation of these works.
The four pieces by Piotr Woroniec, a Polish sculptor, are carved wood
with varying patinas, and may also involve found objects and charcoal.
His works are described as "types" — the painter (in
of course); a violinist (arching with the music he plays); the
(all our worst dreams in one figure). Woroniec’s subjects are basic,
even earthy; his technique, refined.
Igor Tishin’s conceptual painted portraits and lithographs are not
about specific individuals. Rather, they may have been inspired by
the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde, Child says, and sometimes the text
and image are layered together. Born in Belarus, Tishin now lives
in Belgium. Sharing Tishin’s country of origin and conceptual bent,
Rusian Vashkevich redefines the portrait in his paintings and prints:
the features are there, but not in the usual order. His
definitely departs from the ordinary.
Tomek Sikora, a Pole who also lives in Australia, makes unusual
portraits. He starts by taking a portrait picture, then he photographs
his subject holding that original photo in front of her or his face,
making in effect a kind of mask, or anti-mask. Sikora has published
a collection of these double-photo portraits in book form, accompanied
with the first responses his subjects wrote on seeing the finished
Faces and masks: similar in their ability to reveal
or hide. Teresa Kowalska, of Poland, works in bronze, usually creating
masks. A mask may hide the face, she seems to suggest, but it may
not work unless the eyes are also hidden — they can reveal so
Ricardo Barros, a photographer based in Princeton who works out of
a studio in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, is represented in the show
by works from his continuing portrait series of sculptors and their
work. His finished image of Joseph Acquah, a Ghanian sculptor now
on staff at the Johnson Atelier, actually began with Acquah’s own
bronze self-portrait, which Barros says "has a remarkable degree
Barros first photographed the sculpture, making careful notes on the
details of the shoot, such as camera, lens, lighting. Then he
Acquah himself, duplicating those conditions. His technique for
the finished image required darkroom work to blend the two negatives
— which at first worked almost too well, he says. The first
was so seamless that even the tribal scars on both of Acquah’s cheeks
looked like mirror images; the only giveaway was the eye on the
side of the face.
Barros then introduced a third negative involving the lines of a
and some overlap, to prompt viewers to take a second look. This step
also suggested things about Acquah’s work and spirit that pleased
Barros. The photo portrait featured in the show, inspired, Barros
says, by Acquah’s own portrait achievement, merges an image of
bust with his photo-image.
Georges Mazilu, a Romanian who now lives in France, is said to be
seeking God in his search for perfection through idealized oil
of women. Working on panel or canvas, his surfaces are meticulously
smooth; his quest always implicit. Valeriy Skrypka’s small oil
are at once tranquil and mysterious. Using an earthy palette, this
Ukrainian painter creates otherworldly figures whose proportions are
Istvan Orosz, of Hungary, brings to the art of the portrait his
process called "anamorphosis." Requiring mastery of
Orosz’s work starts with a finely detailed etching, for instance,
one showing Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. All by itself, the
image is notable. But place a shiny metal cylinder on the print and
look closely to see a portrait of the bard reflected back onto the
metal. With this step, the art work becomes three-dimensional, with
two images. In similar fashion, Orosz has also created portrait
to artist M.C. Escher and writer Jules Verne.
Her definition of "portrait" might be "a little
Child says. For her and this exhibition it includes full-body views
as well as faces only. Maybe so, but then again, not far from her
gallery on Alexander Street, Princeton University last month unveiled
a full-length, 10-foot, 2-inch tall sculpture of John Witherspoon,
designed in the "heroic realist" manner. There are portraits
Contemporary , 220 Alexander Street, 609-497-7330. Group exhibition
continues to January 12. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30
a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Www.MChildContemporary.com
"Sauce for the Goose," annual holiday fine art and craft sale.
Proceeds benefit the WPA Gallery. Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4:30 p.m.; and
Thursdays and Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. To December 22.
to Abutilon Theophrasti et al," a show of ceramics by Connie
Gallery is open by appointment during school hours. To December 21.
Road, 609-924-6700. Weavings, ceramics, paintings, watercolors, and
woodcarvings by the artists of Mexico’s Oaxaca region. Home to the
Zapotec Indians in the country’s southern state, Oaxaca is the site
of the ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla. Spanish teacher Marlene Kurtz
curated the show of works collected during her sabbatical research
trip. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Through
Mel Leipzig, paintings and studies, a show curated by students. All
profits from sale of works go directly to PHS art programs. Monday
to Friday, 3 to 5 p.m.; and by appointment from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To
"Gilada Africana: An Exhibition of Lap Quilts and Wall
by Mo Fleming. Open Sunday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To January
"Artista Cuba," contemporary Cuban folk art from the
of Jorge Armenteros who has been studying and collecting Cuban art
"A Far Eastern Perspective: Windows to a Vibrant Culture"
featuring printmakers Susumu Endo, Margaret K. Johnson, Yoshikatsu
Tamekane, and Hamanishi Katsunori. Gallery hours are Tuesday to
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To December 22.
of Stone: Roman Sculpture in the Art Museum" and "Pliny’s
Cup: Roman Silver in the Age of Augustus;" to January 20. Open
Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Free
tours of the collection every Saturday at 2 p.m.
Also "Camera Women," a selective survey of the history of
photography from the perspective of the woman photographer, organized
by Carol Armstrong. Also "Contemporary Photographs." Both
shows to January 6.
609-258-3184. "Not for Myself Alone: A Celebration of
Writers," the debut show for the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Collection
of Jewish-American Writers. A two-volume catalog accompanies the
Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. On view to April 21.
The exhibit ranges from the early 19th century to the present day
and includes Yiddish-language writers as well as writers in English.
The earliest writer represented is Rebecca Gratz; other 19th-century
authors include Emma Lazarus, Isaac Leeser, Nathan Meyer, Penina
Mordecai M. Noah, and Isaac Meyer Wise.
In the lobby: "The Japanese Print," an exhibit curated by
Alfred Bush. To January 31.
West Windsor, 609-586-4800, ext. 3589. "Object Values"
photography of MCCC alumnus Eric T. Kunsman and Princeton artist Susan
Hockaday. Gallery hours Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
evenings 6 to 8 p.m.; Thursday evenings 7 to 9 p.m. To December 20.
"Giant Exhibit of Miniature Art," annual show featuring more
than 200 works by 25 artists and featuring Florida artist Peggie
Gallery hours are Wednesday 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday mornings,
and by appointment. To February 1.
"Small Works, Perfect Gifts," a holiday show by gallery
Vivian Abbot, Jay Anderson, Marilyn Anderson, DF Connors, Heinz
M. Jay Goodkind, Ed Greenblat, Rhoda Kassof-Isaac, David H. Miller,
and Carol Yam. Hours are Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to
5 p.m. To December 23.
Watercolors by Gail Bracegirdle. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To December 23.
Road, 609-921-3272. Holiday art sale of paintings, drawings, prints,
photographs, and note cards ranging from $3 to $300 by the Creative
Artists Guild, a benefit for the 1860 house. Open Tuesday to Friday,
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To December 23. Also
in Paint" featuring artists of the Raritan Valley Arts
to December 28.
Betty Curtiss, plein air paintings in oil of the barns and bovines
of the Skillman Dairy Farm. Also still life paintings from the
Princeton neighborhood, especially the fish market. Gallery is open
Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To
Branch Station, 908-725-2110. The 27th annual juried members show,
juried by Lynne Allen, director of the Rutgers Center for Innovative
Print and Paper. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m.
to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. To December 21
Hill: Art from the Hill," an exhibition celebrating Mill Hill
residents and their artwork. Works in all media by a group that
Ann and Jim Carlucci, Victoria Cattanea, Peter Crandall, Andre
Lisa Fullemann, Pierre Jaborska, Lisa and Peter Kasabach, and many
others. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.;
Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. To December 15.
"The Three M’s: Marge, Marguerite, and Molly," featuring works
by Trenton artists Marge Chavooshian, Marguerite Dorenbach, and Molly
Merlino. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To January 6.
609-586-0616. Fall/Winter Exhibition. Open Tuesday through Sunday,
10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year round; Sunday is Members Day. Adult admission
is $4 Tuesday through Thursday; $7 Friday and Saturday; and $10
Annual memberships start at $45. To February 24.
609-292-6464. "George Washington and the Battle of Trenton: The
Evolution of an American Image," an exhibition that documents
the historic context of the American Revolution, the "Ten Crucial
Days" of the Trenton campaign that was the turning point, and
the subsequent commemoration of George Washington’s heroic image by
American artists. To February 24.
Also "American Indians as Artists: The Beginnings of the State
Museum’s Ethnographic Collection," to December 15. "Natural
Selections: Sculpture by Elaine Lorenz," to December 30. "Art
by African-Americans in the Collection," to August 18, 2002.
"Images of Americans on the Silver Screen," to April 14, 2002.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday
noon to 5 p.m. Website: www.njstatemuseum.org.
On extended view: "New Jersey’s Native Americans: The
Record"; "Delaware Indians of New Jersey"; "The Sisler
Collection of North American Mammals"; "Of Rock and Fire";
"Neptune’s Architects"; "The Modernists"; "New
Jersey Ceramics, Silver, Glass and Iron"; "Washington Crossing
609-397-0275. "Little Windows," an exhibition of acrylics
on paper and canvas by Sharon Nieburg. Both narrative and nostalgic,
the artist says her paintings open little windows through which she
hopes her viewer will step. Gallery hours are Monday and Thursday,
1 to 9 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 1 to
5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To January 12.
Winter Exhibition features Albert Bross Jr. and Vincent Ceglia.
hours are Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To January 6.
"Crilley 2002," an exhibition of new oils by Joseph Crilley.
Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday,
noon to 6 p.m. To January 6.
Paintings of Italy, England, and Nova Scotia, as well as Bucks and
Hunterdon County, are included in the show. Many of the works depict
familiar country scenes, bustling local street scenes, and
landmarks such as the New Hope-Ivyland Train Station. Crilley’s new
non-objective paintings also bring a new element to his broad and
capable range of expression.
James T. Lang, lithographs, colographs, and mixed-media works on
in the Artworks Building. Gallery is open noon to 9 p.m. daily.
609-397-4978. "Apropos," Malcolm Bray’s seventh annual show
of innovative contemporary painting and sculpture. Artists include
Rachel Bliss, Malcolm Bray, Jacques Fabert, Michael Hale, Diane
Bonnie MacLean, Dolores Poacelli, Barry Snyder, Patricia Traub, and
Annelies van Dommelen. Hung upstairs above the antique showroom, show
is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., to December 31.
609-397-3349. Myles Cavanaugh, "The Cigar Box Theater," a
solo exhibit of wooden boxes depicting three-dimensional scenes with
mechanical, moving parts inspired by Calder’s Circus. Gallery is open
daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Tuesday. To December 30.
Cavanaugh says he enjoys the interactive quality of these dioramas.
"The viewer becomes part of the story," he says, " by
manipulating the figures and creating relationships between the
That psychological element causes people to continue to think about
the pieces." His gritty urban settings include a seedy motel room,
a walk-up apartment, and a barber shop.
"Mars-Barr," a shared show featuring Chris Mars’s brooding
figures and Glenn Barr’s voluptuous lounge lizards. Website:
Gallery hours are Thursday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. To January
Holiday show of 60 contemporary works by Rick Brown, Jerry Cable,
Robert Goetzl, Glenn Harrington, Suan Ketcham, Barbara Lewis, and
others. To December 22.
908-735-8415. "Degrees of Figuration," a diverse exploration
of the human figure by Bill Leech, Tom Nussbaum, Keary Rosen, Linda
Stojak, and Charles Yuen. Also "Frank Sabatino," abstract
wall sculptures created from rare woods and found objects. And
Stirner," welded iron abstract sculpture. Tuesday to Sunday, 11
a.m. to 5 p.m. To January 6.
215-340-9800. "Artists of the Commonwealth: Realism in
Painting, 1950 to 2000," an exhibition featuring the work of
recognized realist artists and educators who were born and trained
in Pennsylvania. Artists include Diane Burko, Sidney Goodman, Alice
Neel, Philip Pearlstein, Nelson Shanks, Andy Warhol, Neil Welliver,
and Andrew Wyeth. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;
& Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday evenings to 9 p.m. $6.
To January 6.
Also: "Taking Liberties: Photographs of David Graham." The
Bucks County photographer, sometimes called a
to January 27. "Bucks County’s Children," paintings, prints,
collages, and sculpture by students of Council Rock School District.
To December 31.
Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "The Baltics: Nonconformist and Modernist
Art During the Soviet Era," the first major survey of modernist
art produced in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania during the post-World
War II Soviet period. The show features 150 works from the Zimmerli’s
Dodge Collection produced in reaction to communist repression. Show
continues to March 17. Also opening, "St. Petersburg, 1921,"
to March 10. $3 adults; free to students and children.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;
and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission $3 adults; under 18 free; museum
is open free to the public on the first Sunday of every month.
tours every Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m.
& Johnson Plaza, New Brunswick, 732-524-6957. "Nature as
watercolor paintings by Princeton artist Nancy Lee Kern based on
motifs and classical Greek mythology. By appointment only. To December
Kern grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and trained at the Maryland
the Albright Museum, and the Art Students League, New York. From
and etchings to larger works based on vast terrain and dramatic skies,
Kern’s works have featured nature as a central theme. "Nature
has served me well as an inspiration and a passion," she says.
"This spirit continues to flow in the brilliance of
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