Portraiture in Focus

Gallery 104’s ‘Portrait’ show extended

Louisville art teacher Schooling enjoys
showing her work

LA GRANGE, Ky. (November 2020) – While the recent COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed the nation down, several local artists have kept busy with artwork for the current Gallery 104 show, “Portrait: Is It You Or Is It Me?” in La Grange, Ky. Lisa Schooling took second place with her creation, “Wishful Thinking.”
“This portrait was done during the early months of COVID and during winter,” she said. “It’s actually based on a photograph of my cousin’s little girl. She is not looking directly at the camera but seems to be wistfully thinking.”
Schooling said the little girl’s expression and wistful look made her think about her own circumstances during COVID-19. “My family and I were living in China when COVID emerged, and we left to stay with family in the U.S. Unfortunately, the virus spread to the U.S., and we had to go into a lockdown here, too. We spent many months ‘wishing’ we could return, but in the end, we relocated here to Louisville.”
The portrait was created with pastel pencils but based on a photograph, she said. “Working with pastels is a more recent medium for me. I attended an intensive Pastel workshop about two years ago and really enjoyed the effect of layering the pencil when doing a portrait.”
Schooling, 53, said she mainly produces artwork in oil or acrylic painting. “I also love to draw and do printmaking.”
For most of her professional life she has been an art teacher. She took a two-year hiatus to work at exhibiting and being involved with the arts. Schooling, who still lives in Louisville, recently resumed her art teacher position.
It was while visiting her sister in Oldham County that she discovered Gallery 104 in La Grange.
“I really like the feel of the Gallery 104 cooperative, and when the opportunity came up to enter for an exhibit, I was happy to be accepted. I wanted to exhibit ‘Wishful Thinking’ as part of my process of dealing with COVID.”
Originally, the show at Gallery 104 began Sept. 22 and was supposed to end Oct. 17, but “we have extended the Gallery 104 show, “Portraits:  Is It You Or Is It Me?” to Saturday, Nov. 14,” said Jim Cheski, Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Arts Association of Oldham County. “It features 20 works by 10 artists and runs the gamut from traditional portraiture to 3-D and very abstract pieces. This was a competitive show.”
“Because COVID has reduced walk-in traffic, we had gallery time available and thought it was a good show to extend,” he said. “While we’ve included portraiture in many of our previous shows, we’ve never really focused on portraiture as a themed show.”
The judge for this show was Veronica Coulston, a Kentucky portrait artist. Coulston is a native of Prague born into a family of artists who resumed her painting career in 2010, focusing on portraits, landscapes and figurative studies.

Honorable Mention went to Ann Stroth for “Happy Moment.” She used a process called cyanotype, which was developed in 1842 by John Herschel.
“Mine was done from a stencil produced from a black-and-white photo that was reversed to a negative and printed on stencil material.” She then placed the stencil on coated, 140-pound watercolor paper, exposed it to the sun, and processed it by washing it in water.
The 8x10 image is a stencil of a negative border with an image of a little girl (Stroth when she was 4 years old). The negative film border is a graphic with the negative image layered to print the stencil.
“I have been having a lot of fun during the COVID-19 period doing various cyanotype, wet cyanotype, eco-printing, ice dying and not too successfully watercolor painting,” said Stroth.
She has worked professionally in photography since 1970. “My career was in photography and audio-visual production,” she said. “When we were in lockdown, I just started looking at different ways to produce art.”
Third Place went to Edd Johannemann for “Portrait of Self: America.” He described it as a “contemplative piece designed to ask questions of the viewer.” It is made of stained glass and wire.
Johannemann, 57, said “small mirrors draw the viewer in, reflecting one’s image and making one a part of the sculpture. Adding reclaimed barbed wire also seemed to be an important element as was the choice of wood. Reclaimed American chestnut, a tree that is now nearly extinct, was used to support and frame the flag.”
He said that though his entry is “not technically” a portrait, it seemed appropriate for the subtitle of the show. Also, I felt it was important that the piece be seen, particularly now when, if anything, the divisions in our country have grown, not lessened, since it was initially created.”
The First Place award went to Kim Mahlbacher for her piece, “Woodland Nap.” It depicts a young girl who found an ideal, beautifully weathered fallen tree to sit on for a while and take in the sounds of the forest.
“In her silence a fox finds her, and her gentle spirit invites him to feel safe enough climb into her lap and take a nap,” said Mahlbacher. “It reflected my love of nature and the silence of the woods. I often sit quietly in our woods and have had animals come surprisingly close. It’s a treasure, and I adore foxes.”
Several years ago, she said she found a wonderful weathered branch in the woods. Not sure how she would incorporate it into her artwork, it sat on her art shelf. The branch became the girl’s seat.
“The girl and the fox are both needle felted wool over a copper wire stick figure base, which allows them to be poseable,” said Mahlbacher. The girl’s clothes are “wet felted wool, which I dyed with organic materials. Her blouse is made from a thin piece of birch bark. The foxes furry coat and bushy tail are merino wool, which is sewn in over the needle felted form.”
Mahlbacher said, “I love all the shows at Gallery 104, and this one sparked my imagination. I’d never thought of a portrait piece. The gallery is lovely. The staff and volunteers are extremely kind and helpful, and the way everyone’s art is displayed is very professionally done.”

• For more information, visit the website www.aaooc.org/gallery104.


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