When Robert Reese asked me to organize a show, I started thinking about portraits in the age of selfies and cell phones. Now, more than ever, we can easily change the way we look on the outside, but the habits and tiny acts that define the rest of ourselves don’t change so readily. Portraits have always addressed both aspects of the sitters–sometimes glamorizing, or correcting a physical flaw, and sometimes making the sitter grander, more heroic, or more stylish. Other portraits try to show the sitter as they are, while capturing some aspect of their personality. We look at self-portraits, especially, for hints at the artist’s personality. Rembrandt and Velasquez came to my mind immediately, and a photograph you might remember by Imogen Cunningham, showing an unmade bed and some hairpins. I’ve always admired that image–a self-portrait that doesn’t show the physical being of the artist.
The focus of this show is obvious: portraits by artists–self-portraits, portraits of someone important to them, a spirit animal–whatever matters to them. The 20 plus artists represented work in a number of different styles and media, from abstraction to realism, painting, photography, printmaking and mixed media. The participating artists are: Aki Ouye, Karen Nagano, Rick Deragon, Denese Sanders, Meg Biddle, Marcia Perry, Huntington Witherill, Martha Casanave, Jose Ortiz, Kimm Barnes, Paul Richmond, Noro Partido, Will Bullas, Robin Winfield, Andrea Johnson, Jan Wagstaff, Jerry Takigawa, Pamela Takigawa, Karen Warwick, Don Hughes, Mary Hill, Pamela Carroll, and Ellen Gust. Some offer straight self-portraits; others do not. A short statement by each artist will tell you something about what they were thinking when they made the image.
An outdoor closing reception, free and open to all, is scheduled for Saturday, February 19, in the Cherry Center courtyard. We hope you’ll join us. —Martha Manson