Janet Werner and Ariana Huggett

Portrait Society Gallery, 207 E. Buffalo Street, Fifth Floor, Marshall Building, Milwaukee, 414-870-9930,  portraitsocietygallery.com, Thursday-Saturday noon to 5 p.m.

Janet Werner and Ariana Huggett

Introducing: Elly Hazard, Project Space

Friday, September 26 through November 15, 2014 

Opening Reception: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, September 26, 2014.

Gallery Night: October 17


Exhibition Review: Kat Murrell, Urban Dial

Video of recent Janet Werner retrospective, University of Saskatchewan

 lecture by Janet Werner, Concordia University

 interview with Janet Werner, Canadian Art magazine

Janet Werner, Paris (blue)  45x54

Janet Werner, Paris (Blue) 45 x 54 in., oil on canvas, 2010.

Canadian artist Janet Werner and Milwaukee painter Ariana Huggett open the fall season at Portrait Society Gallery.

Janet Werner (b. 1959) is well-known internationally, however she has shown her work less frequently in the United States.  Portrait Society is honored to bring her work to the midwest. Gallery Director Debra Brehmer had discovered Janet Werner’s work at an art fair five years ago, purchased her book, “Too Much Happiness,” and found herself returning to the images repeatedly.

Crying girl 31x24 2010 lr

Janet Werner, Crying Girl, 31 x 24 in., oil on canvas, 2010.

Werner, a professor at Concordia University in Montreal, earned her MFA at Yale in 1987. Werner’s work focuses on the fictional portrait as a vehicle to explore subjectivity and desire, especially involving femininity. Her paintings operate within and against the genre of conventional portraiture, taking found images of anonymous figures in popular culture and imbuing them with fictional personalities.

Lately, Janet Werner’s work has veered further from representational sources and has become more distorted, mannered, expressive, exaggerated, mangled. Figures stretch and morph into masks and deformities that almost humorously address the continuous bruising of the human condition. And yet, the history of grand portraiture, via John Singer Sargent, van Dyck, or Velazquez, never fully departs. The artist has said, “With me there is always this argument between pretty and its destruction. I have a complicated knot of things around the question of beauty.”

Birds_and_Masks (1)

Ariana Huggett, Birds and Masks, 6 x 8 in., oil on wood, 2014.

Ariana Huggett (b. 1965) has shifted her interests from patterned abstraction to representational paintings of home interiors. Her exhibition at Portrait Society, “Everyday Spaces,” includes 20 small-scale oil paintings done on-site, over a period of days. Each painting of an interior holds a mood and time of day as well as a sense of the artist’s selective vantage point. The view she chooses to paint is often determined by what provides an interesting formal composition. The framing of ‘place’ is then balanced between the emotional resonance of its intimacy and the concerns related to light, pattern, shape and color.

In the early 20th century, French artists such as Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard also turned to the domestic interior as subject. Without human figures in the compositions, it was the afterglow of the things and the comfort of the settings that left traces of private lives.


Ariana Huggett, View from Entry, 10 x 8 in., oil on wood, 2014.

As part of this body of work, Ariana has accepted advanced commissions. Those paintings will also be included in the exhibition. She is also available for future commissions that can be booked through the gallery.

Ariana Huggett, cottage

Ariana Huggett, Cottage, 2014.

Ariana Huggett earned her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1987 and her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1994. She last showed her work at Portrait Society in 2009. For additional images, click here. 

In addition to these two parallel exhibitions, Portrait Society’s Project Space, an intimate exhibition venue in the hallway between the gallery and its office, will present “Elly Hazard: One.”

Elly Hazard, Too Tight

Elly Hazard, Too Tight, 40 x 40 inches, oil on canvas, 2014.

Elly Hazard, Mask

Elly Hazard, Show me with your eyes, 28 x 36 inches, oil on canvas, 2014.

This is an exhibition of paintings created since the artist graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in the spring of 2014. Hazard translates the immediacy of drawing and doodling into lively, colorful oil paintings that often feature a female figure but refer more broadly to general moods and states of being. Patterns create action and energy from which colorful dramas charm and entice with their messy exuberance.

Portrait Society’s Project Space is dedicated to experimental projects and emerging voices.

For additional information and images, contact Debra Brehmer, Portrait Society Gallery, portraitsocietygallery@gmail.com, 414 870-9930.


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