Monday, June 29, 2009

Words on a Portrait - "Barbara"

"Every painting tells a story.
Here comes mine...

The profile picture Matt painted of me is showing me in a thoughtful posture, which is just how I feel lately, call it midlife-crisis, I don't know... It was the day of my birthday, I was watching my guests talking to each other. I was sitting there, just watching them, listening. I remember it very well. The room was full, but I was on my own. My husband took the photo, Matt painted it. That makes the portrait important to me.

A frozen moment in time. (Isn't the past, the life on which you look back, a collection of single moments frozen in your memory? Are we able to re-live or re-imagine longer periods like a week ? a day? an hour? second by second by second? No! We hop from moment to moment, good or bad, but always important for some reason.)

Matt Held and I are half brother and sister. We got to know each other only when we were almost grown-ups. One day, maybe ten years ago, when social networking was still to be invented in a larger scale, we started an email-correspondence that lasted for more than a year. But that's a different story.

When I joined his Facebook-group last year there were about 43 group-members. To be honest, the thought of being portrayed caused strange sensations of embarrassment in me, but as the group grew larger and larger and the number of beautiful finished portraits too, my opinion changed. With joy I watched the wave of enthusiasm the project was arousing among the facebook-users. Who could have expected this?

There were quite a few articles in the press and web, that talked about the phenomena of social networking lately. Painting has been a big subject too over the last years. Since Matt Held's facebook-project seemed to be the first that treated both as one, the echo it evoked was: this is brand new, hot! People loved it! Why? Because it was so personal! But it works on different levels.

While my first approach to it was personal and intimate too, the project as a whole at the same time turned out to be so relevant for many. It is fresh, open minded and actual, touching the reality and existence of every person who takes part in today's decade-changing progress, meaning the internet-based communication, which influences the social behavior and every day habits so evidently. The computer screen is the window to the world indeed, and it has become a means for reaching out. You look at me, I look at you and your friends... and: the artist looks at the model.

Why did Matt portray his wife's facebook-pic? He could have portrayed her sitting in front of her doing sketches. Instead he chose do do it from her fb-pic. The creative move behind that is clear to see. A bridge from 18th century to today. But still there is always a story behind. And a special moment."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Words on a Portrait - "Angie"

Everyone loves a cute girl in a monster costume. There was no question about painting Angie. She lives in Denver with our good friend Jason (aka Sharpie nose) and it's no surprise that she is super cute and super smart. I met her once when they came to visit a couple years ago. I think the funniest thing about the painting is that "don't fuck with me" look. She is such a graceful, calming presence that looking at her painting makes me wonder how much more to her there is that most people probably don't see.
She was kind enough to send us the story of the photo and some of her thoughts on the project and here are her words:

"When this picture was taken I was at an art opening for the Horndribbles—soft sculpture art by a couple of Denver artists. There was a guy walking around in an amazing Horndribble costume and I asked if I could try on the head. Normally I feel so awkward in photographs (and it shows) but somehow having that big, fuzzy monster head on made me relax enough for the photo to turn out well and become a picture of myself I actually like.

I feel really honored to have been part of the project. I never thought I'd have an opportunity to have my portrait painted and to have it done from a photograph that I love and makes me laugh has made the experience even better. I think of portraiture traditionally as art of the upper class and while I've seen beautiful portraits, I tend to think of them as serious and stuffy. In contrast, the portraits of the project are not only wonderful in an artistic sense, they are also so unexpected. Because they are done from photos they seem almost the opposite of traditional portraits—a lot of them portray things that you couldn't pose for, moments that only a camera could capture. That they were moments captured in a photo and then again in paint makes them all the more whimsical. It would be amazing to see all the portraits in person, all together in one space, and to be able to ask the subjects what they were trying to express about themselves by posting that particular photo to Facebook for the world to see."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Solo Show - Denise Bibro Fine Art Platform Project Space

We have some very exciting news to share! Matt will be having his 1st solo show, opening Thursday, September 10th at Denise Bibro Fine Art, Platform Project Space in Chelsea. I'll confirm all the details once we get all ducks in a row, but this is huge and we couldn't be more thrilled!
Stay tuned!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Words on a Portrait - "Elis"

Elis Wooton is a student at NYU Wagner. She is a goofy girl, with a lot of brains and a spunky personality. When I first saw her photo, I told Matt he absolutely HAD to paint it. I think it is my favorite one even to this day. It just reminds me of those special moments when you are hanging out with friends on a weekend, enjoying life. I smile and laugh every time I see it, and that to me adds so much more to the experience of being with her portrait.

Here is what Elis had to say about being involved in the project and the story behind the photo:

"I think it is a really interesting idea to further connect people through fine art on a virtual social network.... creating a community where there was not one before. I think it could be a really great show ... all the portraits in a gallery space. I think the fact that over 3,000 people have joined the group so far is a testament how rad the project is and how everyone secretly wants to be immortalized in one way or another.

I don't really want to wax on about what I think it 'means' though... I'm sure that [people] advocate for what it means in an artistic sense. I am no art critic but I love my portrait.

I'm not going to lie... when I saw my name on the short list for portraits people would want on their walls I was pretty stoked...

The picture was taken in Costa Rica when I was snorkeling with a couple of my best lady friends. We all took silly pictures of each other with our masks on. I just happened to use mine as my profile picture..."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Museum Week, July 1st through 6th

It happens this time every year. We try to save for vacation, but the savings usually gets depleted by "incidentals" before we've had a chance to take it. Such is the case this year and so this time, instead of resting on our laurels, I've decided to make the stay-cation a more productive one. From July 1st through July 6th, we will be visiting one museum a day for six days. New York is filled with local institutions that thrive on tourist dollars and endowments to sustain themselves. It's no surprise that most of them are suffering cut backs due to the current economic climate and so I've decided that our vacation will not just be about taking a break from work and watching fireworks in honor of our freedom, rather, it will be about supporting local arts institutions. Therefore, I dub July 1st through the 6th the unofficial "Museum Week".
We've lived here for three years and have never been able to dedicate the necessary amount of time to visit the Guggenheim, PS 1, NewMuseum, the Met, MOMA, Brooklyn Art Museum, the Whitney, the Rubin, American Folk Art Museum. So take out the ones I frequent (the Met, MOMA, Brooklyn Art Museum, Museum of Natural History) and you get a week chalk full of visual stimuli. Personally, I can think of nothing more patriotic during the week of the 4th than supporting such great American institutions.
Matt and I are going to put focus on spending time at each studying portraiture and I will be sending tweets and posting messages as we go along. Should be fun, and certainly feel free to join in at your locale. Time off or not, there are always lunch hours and after work to visit your local museum.
Follow along on Twitter with #museumweek