Painted Selfies

New portraits exhibition opens at Scottsdale Civic Center Library

Scottsdale Public Art is now showing a juried portraits exhibition at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library. I Am You, You Are Me: Portraits will be on view through June 21 at the Civic Center Public Gallery inside the library.

In the “selfie” age, photographic self-portraits are abundant. The ease with which we can make ourselves look perfect—with filters, angles and lighting—is a click away. However, an artist creates a portrait to satisfy their vision of the subject, whether of themselves or someone else. What does the artist see? I Am You, You Are Me explores that question.

“When someone is rendering a portrait, the line between the artist and the sitter are blurred, and the portrait is a representation of the relationship between artist and sitter, however brief or lengthy,” says curator Wendy Raisanen of Scottsdale Public Art. “There’s energy exchanged between these people. How the artist feels about and truly sees the subject is shown in the artwork.”

Raisanen was particularly interested in showing the works of artists who created portraits of each other. Some of the exhibiting artists fulfilled that prompt, like longtime friends and collaborators Jane Kelsey-Mapel and Becky Frehse, who created humorous portraits of each other holding their dogs and posing with their artwork. Kelsey-Mapel, of Phoenix, stitched and stuffed a photo transfer on a vintage textile to portray Frehse, while Frehse, of Tacoma, Washington, created a layered and painterly collage to portray Kelsey-Mapel.

“As a visual artist, I am usually in the role of the observer. For this show, I became the subject matter as well,” says Kelsey-Mapel. “It was a bit like putting the shoe on the other foot. I thought ‘Oh, that’s how she sees me!’”

Other artists submitted either self-portraits or depictions they had made of other subjects. Dana Corbo of Scottsdale did both.

“Stubborn,” her self-portrait, shows her entire body from a low angle of view with a variety of details (bright hair color, exaggerated leg hair, other objects in the background) that could lead the viewer to draw conclusions or assumptions. These details allow the viewer to know things about her, but do they get to know her? Corbo said she intentionally offered little information in her facial details about who she is.

Conversely, with “Nicholas in Trouble,” the artist tried to capture an expression of her subject that exposes concern, anxiety and concentration. She composed the painting in a way that her subject’s face is the entire focus.

“I like people, but I love characters, especially in novels,” Corbo says. “The challenge of painting a face, revealing a person’s character, is equal to the reward of doing it successfully. Dissecting a person and then reconstructing them through painting brings me joy.”

Other artists in the exhibition include Susan Allred (Tempe), Laura Amphlett (Phoenix), Neil Borowicz (Tempe), Rebecca Clark (Tucson), Turner Davis (Phoenix), Katherine Del Rosario (Tempe), Jerome Fleming (Phoenix), Lex Gjurasic (Tucson), Dain Q. Gore (Laveen), Ira Grin (Chandler), Tiesha Harrison (Phoenix), Lilach Keren (Scottsdale), Galya Kerns (Litchfield Park), Kathi Knox (Phoenix), Brianna Noble (Phoenix), Eliza Plumlee (Tucson), Kara Roschi (Phoenix), Alexandra Ross (Mitchell, Manitoba, Canada), William Touhey (Tucson), Chris Vena (Tempe), Johanna Virgil (Goodyear), Ingrid Wells (San Francisco) and Wendy Willis (Phoenix).


I Am You, You Are Me: Portraits

Through June 21

Scottsdale Civic Center Library, 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale

For more information, visit scottsdalepublicart.org.

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