Contemporary Portraiture in The Challenger
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Read more at TheChallengerNews.com
When organizing the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s exhibition Contemporary Portraiture opening Friday, March 8 as part of M&T Second Friday, Scott Propeack, interim director and chief curator, made it his goal to “to show a wide range of materials, subjects, various forms of contemporary expressions and their complexities.”
Contemporary Portraiture will include 14 artists and more than 60 portraits in oil, fabric, watercolor, acrylic paintings, drawings, photographs and screen-prints featuring the work of Patti Ambrogi, Bruce Adams, John Baker, Julia Bottoms, Tricia Butski, Barbara Hart, Jack Edson, Patrick Foran, John Opera, Cristiano F. Lopes Pereira, Joe Radoccia, Henry Schmidt, Chuck Tingley, Edreys Wajed, and Gary L. Wolfe.
Beyond the portraits of the famous, contemporary art is frequently concerned with other things. The Kehinde Wiley painting of Barack Obama, or the Amy Sherald painting of Michelle Obama are well known, but what other contemporary portraiture garners that level of attention? Portrayals are still frequently recognized more for the fame of the subject than the artistic ability of the artist.
“This exhibition is not a massive survey but a look at a variety of ways that artists are working in portraiture, not who’s working in portraiture. For example, Julia Bottoms is a traditional oil painter, yet her subjects have contemporary elements,” said Propeack. “Jack Edson creates quilt portraits with classic, cultural symbols; however, his use of fabric and geometry inspire us to reconsider the image. Henry Schmidt’s portraiture is both of people and animals. John Opera’s anthotypes are contemporary but use a historic process that dates to 1842 where images are created using photosensitive, organic vegetable dyes.”
Great portraiture is always better than an exacting representation of the real. It reveals something about the personhood or identity of the subject. “Buffalo is home to hundreds of artists who incorporate portraiture in their practice and a survey of this activity is one for a future exhibition. In Contemporary Portraiture identity, and who is represented shifts from the iconic image of the bank president to the neighbor, under-represented, or the re-presented person,” said Propeack. “This does not discount the value in the perfectly articulated classical approach of oil paintings and photography. In a world heavily driven by conceptual art, tradition too can be radical and feel new.”
About the Burchfield Penney Art Center
Established in 1966 on the campus of SUNY Buffalo State, the Burchfield Penney Art Center is dedicated to the art and vision of renowned American watercolorist Charles E. Burchfield (1893–1967) and the distinguished artists of Western New York State.
In 2008, The Center opened a $36 million freestanding facility in the heart of Buffalo’s Museum District. Designed by Gwathmey Siegel and Associates Architects, the museum includes more than 84,000 square feet dedicated primarily to galleries, as well as education and program space. It is home to the world’s largest collection of artwork and ephemera by Burchfield and a collection of more than 8,000 works by over 850 artists. The Burchfield Penney was the first LEED-certified art museum in New York State and was featured by travel editors of the New York Times as one of the “44 Places to Go in 2009.”
In 2016, the Burchfield Penney Art Center celebrates 50 years as the Museum for Western New York Arts. The year is highlighted by groundbreaking exhibitions, dynamic programming, aggressive collecting and celebration of the cultural legacy of the region.