Art We Love – We the People

The human figure, people,  has been a favorite subject for artists ever since they first started scrawling on cave walls thousands of years ago. Every age has had its artistic take on the human body, from idealized Greek gods in marble to multifaceted cubist physiques. The work here is varied in style and media and has nothing in common and everything in common – just like people themselves.

 

Curtis Speer, Ilona #1 (pigment on cotton rag, 36” x 36”), Cusp Gallery

Curtis Speer, Ilona #1 (pigment on cotton rag, 36” x 36”), Cusp Gallery

Fascinating people don’t necessarily make fascinating portrait subjects. People can be grouchy or camera shy no matter their genius IQ or enormous talent. So a great portrait is a joint effort between the artist and sitter. Even the legendary artist Ilona Royce Smithkin had to be well lit and captured at just the right moment. Curtis Speer has done just that in this photograph. Even if you never heard of Ilona, one look at this portrait and you feel her charisma. It’s an image for the ages and a fitting tribute to the great lady.

 

Joey Brock, In America Anh Hybrid 1 (mixed media on mylar, 49” x 39”), On Center Gallery

Joey Brock, In America Anh Hybrid 1 (mixed media on mylar, 49” x 39”), On Center Gallery

Joey Brock has managed to make a work that is bold and delicate all at the same time. The masterfully collaged layers are stitched in a way that gives an unexpected, tactile quality to the surface. But nothing can compete with the eyes. For all the bold juxtapositions of patterns, it’s the serene and powerful gaze that holds your attention. Is this a portrait? A composite image? I’m not sure, but I do know that this is a person I’d like to have in my house and get to know.

 

Harold López Muñoz, Retrato verde Green portrait (oil on canvas, 23” x 19”), Galeria Cubana

Harold López Muñoz, Retrato verde Green portrait (oil on canvas, 23” x 19”), Galeria Cubana

If you wanted to argue about style over substance, you could fault this artist for his anatomical skills and his color choices. Is her arm really that long – and green? But who cares, this woman casts an irresistible spell. She is cropped in a way that is both intimate and a little disorienting, and the bold brushwork gives the whole thing a rush of energy. There’s no question, I’d rather be green and gorgeous than perfectly correct.

 

Forrest Williams, Woodsmen (Heading Out) (oil on wood panel, 40” x 72”), AMP

Forrest Williams, Woodsmen (Heading Out) (oil on wood panel, 40” x 72”), AMP

Forrest Williams is a gifted painter and a master in depicting the male form. Yet he doesn’t take the easy road of cranking out pretty pictures of pretty men. Instead, he takes that surface beauty and imbues it with a psychological depth. You can marvel at the soft light illuminating the figures, but you also want to know how these men relate to each other or if maybe they’re all different aspects of the same person. A feast for the eyes and the intellect.

 

George Rogers is an artist and ceramicist. After a career in museums including the MFA in Boston and the Smithsonian, he and his husband moved to Provincetown full time four years ago.

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