The gallery has reopened!

Portrait Society Gallery has been closed since the end of July for major reconstruction. The Grand Opening of the new space was Friday, November 9, FIFTH FLOOR, Marshall Building. Watch this video! Here are photos from the opening celebration by Art Elkon.

Gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. or by appointment.

The new 1,300 square foot space has three interconnected gallery areas. A new storeroom and office occupies a space across the hall. Here is a review. Here is another review. And here is a review of the grand re-opening.


Decay Utopia Decay: J. Shimon & J. Lindemann

This show presents self-portraits shot on this collaborative team’s Wisconsin farm. Large-scale cyanotype  prints and ambrotypes were created with a hand built “big” camera.

In the words of the artists:

An exhibition about our personal desperation to create a paradise and record its existence at our isolated rural Wisconsin farm. Such perfection can only exist in the haze of the past or future, making it absurd to approach it with the present-ness of photography, even with camera formats as reflectively cumbersome as 30×36 inches or as spontaneous as small-gauge 8mm movies. Our decaying, aging existence provides us with a stage as we face off with the elements, the uncontrollable plant world, broken-down farm implements, groundhogs, wasps, and mosquitoes.”

Here is a link to more work: Large scale images.

Here is a link to more information and a video about their process: Artists’ website

 Natural History: Barbara Ciurej & Lindsay Lochman

This exhibition, in the front gallery space, features another long-term collaborative photographic team. Lochman teaches photo courses at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Ciurej lives and works in Chicago. They have collaborated on projects for more than 20 years. This new body of work features portrait busts of women, over-laid with plant forms. The process pairs a digital print with a cyanotype layer on top.

The artists describe the project as:

The transformation of “portraits into tangled shadows of time. Grafting techniques from the history of photography, the cyanotype impressions of botanicals pay homage to Anna Atkins’ use of the medium in the nineteenth century…They speak of evanescence and hidden nature.”

Portrait commissions by Ciurej and Lochman are also available through the gallery.

Absence Makes: Nicholas Grider and Portrait Society

photo frank juarezThis collaborative project between the photographer Nicholas Grider (MFA Cal-Arts) and Portrait Society pairs vintage portraits in all media with photo-derived word images. The exhibition is  in the gallery’s new “Lounge,” the smallest and most informal room of the new space.  Gallery owner and curator Debra Brehmer says the exhibition is about loss (of all kinds) and the difficulties of communicating who we are and how we feel; the difficulties of being “known.” All of the vintage portraits, whether paintings, photographs or drawings, carry a sense of displacement as they have fallen out of context and out

of a linear kind of history. But that may be a truer state than the assumed conventional ‘life,’ where we think we have a place, a permanency and belongingness.

Nicholas Grider, whose “Men in Suits” project was shown at the gallery in 2009, works in diverse formats. These word photographs present fragments of phrases, thoughts or song lyrics.  Disjointed, the broken phrases feel far more open and interpretive than they would nestled into completed sentences. Grider says this about his body of word images:

“I’m interested in how thought translates to writing and how writing translates to image so I have connected bodies of work that approach those ideas in different ways.  A kind of sub-lingual emotion or precursor to thought is represented by the abstract, swirling fields of pen lines; private, unspoken thought is represented by handwriting; and words spoken in conversation are represented by stenciled text in pencil and pen.  I’ve matched words and phrases to projects according to what I think a piece of text most suits, and I draw upon pop songs and popular sayings for the text pieces to make them possibly recognizable but unfamiliar in their new form.”

Nicholas Grider’s word photographs can be ordered in any size.

 Opening March 15, 2013

 The Vanishing Point: Shana McCaw and Brent Budsberg

This collaborative team works with sculpture, installation and performance. In the past two years, however, residencies in Wendover, Utah and Death Valley, near the ghost town of Ryolite, Nevada, inspired a series of photographs that present fictive, dramatic accounts of the pair dressed as pioneers pitted against unforgiving, vast landscapes. “The Vanishing Point” presents the artists as two 19th century, Midwestern farmers, characters who emerged from their earlier work using architectural miniatures.  For this couple, the alien landscapes of the American West represent a kind of unconscious dystopia.  The series depicts the Sisyphean struggles of the characters as they long for the fertile soil of the Midwest and struggle in vain to coerce a land of harsh conditions to bear fruit.



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