The fourth installment in my series of blogs leading up to the Majority Rising show which curated and participated in at the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve for Women’s History Month.
Majority Rising, subtitled, Cleveland’s Female Gaze, opened March 12th and featured work by legendary Cleveland figurative artists, Shirley Aley Campbell, Lee Heinen, Kathleen McKenna, Marsha Sweet, Marilyn Szalay…and me, Judy Takács.
|Kathleen McKenna, Walking, Walking Man, Walking|
Kathleen and I share some of the same history as portrait artists coming of age in Cleveland during a time when portrait painting was still looked at as the illegitimate stepchild of fine art. We both studied portrait painting extensively under José Cintron, who for many years kept the portrait torch alive in Cleveland higher art education, when no one else was. We both have stories of portrait commissions and their frustrations, as well as their triumphs.
And, I also must thank Kathleen, who was the one who first contacted me from the Artist Archives with the invitation to become an archived artist.
|Kathleen McKenna, Malala’s Muse|
The same is true today, and these pentimenti lines are evidence of the nervous energy Kathleen puts into the beginning, middle…and end of her paintings. They are also calligraphic, and reminiscent of drawing (as opposed to painting)…which, in my book, is the backbone of serious portraiture.
Kathleen’s painting, Malala’s Muse was inspired by the heroic fourteen year old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, who simply wanted an education for girls in her country and was targeted, shot and left for dead by the Taliban…on a schoolbus no less.
Kathleen’s models for this painting are girls from her neighborhood who safely attend the local public school and enjoying the freedom to learn, play music and be inspired. She thought it a fitting tribute to name the painting after the young hero who fights for these basic human rights for girls in the Middle East.
|Judy Takács, Inspired by Malala and by Kathleen McKenna|
Of the 5 portraits I painted for Majority Rising, Kathleen’s image was perhaps the most difficult to render. Glasses always throw me for a loop, but she said they are a familiar part of her face, so I let her keep them on…when I paint someone, the glasses are always negotiable, even though I prefer them off. And Kathleen’s quiet, genteel presence contrasted with her exuberantly gestural paint marks, so her portrait really shows two ideas…which hopefully I have married, but also want to recognize as separate and distinct.
I’m honored that this painting and three more of mine, are to be exhibited with amazing work from Northeast Ohio’s art stars to celebrate Women’s History Month at Lakeland Community College: