Monday, March 9, 2015

Majority Rising: The Self-Portrait

The sixth and final installment in my series of blogs leading up to the Majority Rising show which I 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.

My contribution to the show as curator and participant, was the portraits I painted of the living artists in this exceptional grouping.

And, in the interests of fairness, I included a self-portrait too. As you may already know, for each portrait of these Cleveland Art Legends, I chose to be inspired by their art as well as their likeness.

To apply that concept to my own self-portrait, I turned to my inner hedonist and asked, what kind of painting would bring me the most joy to create?

The answer was loud as a fire engine… “red”.

Judy Takács, Silent Picture, a Self-Portrait

Lately I’ve been LOVING painting on red. It creates a flesh and blood undertone beneath my skin layers. It’s a joy to build a human face and hands on red. That is why so many of paintings these days are on bright cadmium red (toxins and consequences be damned.)

In addition to loving red, I LOVE antiquing. Over the past few years, my two younger sons have enjoyed antiquing with me; each with their own changing agenda…antique weapons, coins, vintage movie projectors and old 16mm film reels. I antique for things that would be fun to paint.

Taking inspiration from excessively talented artist, Pamela Wilson, (whose antique treasure trove must be the size of an army barracks) I too, am collecting props and costumes. Unlike, Pam, though, who can paint any object or space she chooses, with exquisite mastery, detail and precision,  my “stuff” painting skills are as still developing.

Unlike actual faces, where I will tackle anyone for better or worse…for me to paint an object, it has to speak to me. It can’t be too mechanical (no car engines) or repetitive (no fenceposts, combs or chain link fence). It must have organic yet identifiable shapes (a beat up old shoe is perfect and so are the boxing gloves on my easel right now), yet not be too shapeless (no tumbleweeds please, and I shall run screaming from a mink coat thrown into a bean bag chair with no seams).
Work in Progress Detail from, Lady in Waiting
And, if you’ve been following the Chicks blog, you know my skills were severely taxed with some of the balls I had to paint… golf-balls; spawned from the bowels of my personal hell, and were banished from my studio.

So, in seeking hedonistic painting pleasure, I look for objects that are fun for me to paint, and then as I contemplate them, I extrapolate the symbolism…though sometimes even that process works in reverse. I’m currently looking for antique white opera gloves.

A scene from Unbearable Lightness of Being, with Daniel Day Lewis and Lena Olin as Sabina

I almost didn’t buy the discount 1940s bowler hat I stumbled upon at the
Medina Antique Mall because it was so artistically cliché (I thought of Magritte of course, but also the beguiling Sabina in Unbearable Lightness of Being…the quintessentially gorgeous, sexually provocative, woman artist, painting in lingerie and ever-ready for her married lover to show up at his convenience…)
But, the bowler fit my extra large head perfectly and the price was right!
Unexpectedly, the self-portrait concept came together in a flash.

Since one of my kids was into old movies, we’d been watching several Charlie Chaplin films lately. I always knew a picture was worth a thousand words, and my Number 12 Rosemary Shiraz Filbert Brush was the perfect mustache shape!
Charlie Chaplin
Thus was born the concept for my self-portrait, which I (oh so cleverly…and ironically, because it’s of me, who is never silent) called,  Silent Picture.

And, since a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, and I’ve already used up 608 of them I shall say no more!

Past Show:
Majority Rising
Cleveland’s Female Gaze

March 2015

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

Read the first Majority Rising blog featuring Shirley Aley Campbell, and the second one which talks about Lee Heinen, the third one, which is all about Marsha Sweet, the fourth one about Kathleen McKenna, and the fifth, all about Marilyn Szalay.