“Exploring Portraiture”: Confluence opens for 2017 season


Glazed clay bust of woman, looking to the side.

Maybe, by Diane Sullivan (photo by John Polak Photography)

Confluence in Readsboro will open its second season on May 6th with a show of portraiture. The show, titled “Exploring Portraiture,” is curated by gallery manager John Walker. The show explores 4 different artists’ take on the general idea of making and using portraits in art, and includes a broad range of materials and intentions.

Explaining his choice of opening the season with a portrait show Walker says, “We get large amounts of information from other peoples’ expressions and those expressions are universal to humanity. And yet each face is unique…a paradox. I was recently interested to learn that the tradition of formal record portraiture is still fairly strong. I saw that an artist who lives in Windham county had painted the governor’s portrait. That rekindled my interest.”

“Exploring Portraiture” will feature artists from the North Adams/Readsboro area whose work ranges from ceramic busts to photographic collages. In the mix as well are straight ahead portrait paintings in oils by Julia Dixon, and fine photographic portraits by Ann Floriani.

Diane Sullivan says of her ceramic sculptures, “Dancers, circus, acrobats, women who use their bodies to express themselves has fascinated me…this figural work is centered on the idea of persona and the stories revealed by the public faces and postures we assume. In my ceramic figures I have combined elements of both extremes––the figure as icon and the figure as a form of play––in order to communicate this duality between the ways we see ourselves and who we are…By creating sculptures in an intimate small scale, I want the viewer to take the time to examine the details.”

Laura Christensen, who creates photographic collages, incorporating painting and century-old photographs, explains her process and goals this way: “Like family and friends of the depicted, I pay extraordinary attention to each photograph. But with a different eye. By the time I find these old photographs, the chain of personal connections has broken. Their subjects are freed to become characters cast and costumed, part of another story.

“Apparitions of the people who posed for a camera are still visible, transformed, and performing fresh scenes of pathos and humor. Handcrafted frames and cabinets with fabric backdrops serve as proscenium for their stage. With images of moments past, I’ve built new narratives. Theatric, surreal, and mysterious.”

Julia Dixon’s facile but strong portraits in oil on canvas lend true portraiture credentials to the show. That is, they are portraits painted of people and meant to look like the people that sat before the artist, a perhaps reassuring form of picture-making for those who like the classic vein of portraiture. Says John Walker of her work: “I was very drawn to the bigger pieces with their lush colors. The smaller pieces are more studies, but they get to the essence of her subjects nicely with an economy of brush strokes.”

The photographic portraits by local photographer Ann Floriani, round out the show.

Confluence, Readsboro’s first gallery, is located in the historic Bullock Building at 7012 Main Street, in this town tucked into the southern reaches of the Green Mountains, with the Deerfield River cascading through it.

The opening reception for “Exploring Portraiture” takes place at the gallery on May 5th between 5 and 7 p.m. The exhibit runs May 6th – June 11th.

Gallery hours are Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sundays 12-4 p.m., and by appointment. For more information call 802-423-5600 or email: email hidden; JavaScript is required