Thursday, January 15, 2015

Majority Rising: Cleveland’s Female Gaze

While all the other art bloggers out there were writing their New Year’s blogs, I was holed up in my studio painting (with a few stops at the computer to bang out another installment of my self-portrait blog for the Portrait Society of America.)

So, I shall retrace my steps. 

Last time we spoke in October, I was running out the door to take my Chicks paintings to Pennsylvania for a Chicks with Balls show at the Schulman Gallery of the Luzerne County Community College

The show was wildly successful and beautifully hung, thanks to the efforts of gallery director extraordinaire, Allison Schmidt Carson (check out the pix on facebook). The gala opening was well-attended and the gallery talk was well-received. The two-day weekend workshop inspired me no end, I’m incredibly proud of my students…and our model was terrific! My painting of her below, is called, Air.

Judy Takács, Air
What excited most were all the volunteers in Pennsylvania, who offered to pose for future Chicks paintings…I had 6 of them on opening night! I promised each one that on my return trip to pick up the art in mid-December, I’d stage the photo shoots necessary for me to create their paintings, so they should start thinking about their balls.

Do you think anyone will notice my CWB sticker when I return my U-Haul?

Between school closings and winter weather advisories in PA, staging these encounters added to the complexity of my return trip in December to pick up the art, but I’ll talk more about that in later blogs. Happy to report, I made it home safe and sound and ready to hunker down for the holidays and get cooking and take a little detour from the Chicks  before their next show at the Tri-C Gallery East in Ocober 2015!

Majority Rising

If you’ve been following my #workinprogress and #majorityrising painting details that I’ve been posting on instagram…and my showing for the facebook 7 day artists challenge you may already have some clues.

Late in 2014, I was asked by Mindy Tousley, the new Executive Director of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, to curate and participate in, Majority Rising, a figurative show for Women’s History Month in March 2015.

I was to choose figurative artists from the legendary female Cleveland artists whose work is archived at the AAWR. The Archives is a non-profit dedicated to preserving the Art History of Cleveland. Many famed artists, including some of my professors from the Cleveland Institute of Art, have their art legacy housed at the Archives. A few years back, the Archives invited me to be an archived artist as well.

So, I set forth immediately choosing my dream team for Majority Rising and planned studio visits too. This was a golden opportunity to meet some of the grand dames of Cleveland Art and see their work in person. 

I also decided to paint each of these legendary artists as my contribution to the show

In the words of Tina Turner, I never do anything nice and easy”…I do it nice and rough!” Four completed portraitsplus a self portrait finished, framed and dry by the March 12th openingam I crazy?

The Majority Rising figurative artists whose portraits I am painting are…Shirley Aley Campbell, Lee Heinen, Kathleen McKenna, and Marsha Sweet. The fifth artist, whose work is included in the show, is the amazing Marilyn Szalay, who, sadly I have never met.  She passed away in 2012. Because I thought it would be the best way to honor her memory, her own self-portrait will be included in the show.

Proceeding alphabetically, I’ll begin with Shirley Aley Campbell

I hope she won’t mind me saying this, and I’d take it as a huge compliment myself…she’s Cleveland’s own artistic blend of Alice Neel and Lucien Freud.

Shirley Campbell’s gigantic cast of characters spoke to my own artistic soul. I marveled at her bravery in rising to the challenge of painting Hell’s Angels on Harleys, prostitutes in back seats of police cars, transgender individuals and any number of fascinating folks who live beneath the radar of conventional society…for the past 70 years or so!

Shirley Aley Campbell, The Secret

It was her lesser-shown nudes that I chose for the Majority Rising show though. When she told me that one of her multi-figure nudes had been overlooked for years because of its controversial nature, I jumped at the chance to turn some heads and include the piece in the show I was curating.

Below is another of Shirleys paintings, Red Tulips, which was featured in a Cleveland Plain Dealer review of her show at the Maria Neil Art Project, in November 2014. I love how Shirley paints, I love who she paints…and I love all that red too. Before I even met the her, Red Tulips inspired my vision of the portrait I would paint of Shirley.

Shirley Aley Campbell, Red Tulips

Chatting all afternoon with Shirley, I asked her to hold her paintbrush like the cigarette in her painting…and we laughed and laughed! 

I call my painting below, When I grow up, I want to be Shirley Campbell.

Judy Takács, When I grow up I want to be Shirley Campbell

Hope to see you at my curatorial debut and opening reception

Majority Rising
Cleveland’s Female Gaze

Public Opening Reception: Thursday March 12, 5:30 to 8:30

Show dates March 12 through May 2

Artist Archives of the Western Reserve
1834 East 123rd Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

Private Studio tours in conjuction with the exhibit:

Lee Heinen Studio Tour, March 21, 2015, 1:00 to 2:30

Shirley Aley Campbell Studio Tour, April 4, 2015 1:00 to 2:00

Judy Takács Studio Tour, April 11, 2015, 1:00 to 2:30

Kathleen McKenna Studio Tour, April 18, 2015, 1:00 to 2:30

Individual $20
AAWR Member $15

To reserve your spot and buy your ticket to any of the studio tours, email Katelyn Gainer, Gallery and Administrative Assistant at or call 216.721.9020.  



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