This year will be our first year since 2011 without our annual Portrait show in June. Since we started the yearly tradition in 2012, it's been one of my favorite shows of the year, one that I am most "hands-on" with as a curator. I love portraiture and look forward to this exhibition each year. Portraits have always been one of the most traditional methods of painting, and each year I work to come up with a new concept that celebrates this tradition, while introducing a theme that appeals to fans of our genre.
It's a great deal of work, and I generally began planning a year in advance. As an artist, it's a show that I always try to participate in as well, so it takes a good amount of my time each year to coordinate everything while attempting to finish my painting. This year, we made the decision to forego the annual Portrait show to focus on putting together a retrospective exhibition to honor our late friend and gallery artist Michael Ryan. We felt that we could not, with confidence, put all our efforts into both projects, and though it was a tough decision to make, I believe it was the right decision. Kim and I both spent the last nine months planning for this exhibition, which opens Saturday at the gallery. Nearly 35 works from the artist have been loaned and cataloged, and will be presented to the public as a body of work for the first time.
In the spirit of keeping the portrait show alive, I would like to confirm that we are planning next year's show and will continue this exciting tradition in 2018 and beyond. I'd like to take this space to recap some Portrait Show highlights from the last 7 years.
cover image by Michael Ryan
Our first portrait show featured portraits of "History's Most Infamous". This was a really exciting show to see what historical figure each artist would select, and the work ran the gamut from artists to celebrities, from monarchs to criminals.
Jaxon Northon, John Brown, 2012
John Wentz, William S. Burroughs, 2012
Albert Ramos, If Edison Had a Needle (Portrait of Nikola Tesla), 2012
Laura Buss, Sid Vicious, 2012
The year that we decided to make the portrait show an annual tradition, while at the same time changing the up the theme. This year's show focused on portraits of fictional characters from literature. The level of imagination and creativity in this show was really fantastic, and some of the my favorite works we have exhibited came from this show.
Soey Milk, Night Flow, 2013
Crystal Chan, Coraline, 2013
Brianna Angelakis, Alice of Wonderland, 2013
Robert Bowen, Some Animals are More Equal Than Others, 2013
Year three I had the idea to scale back the portrait show and allow much larger works to be exhibited. Nothing seemed as perfect as inviting 20 artists to produce large-scale works of the 20 gods of Mount Olympus. This show was literally monumental.
Rebecca Leveille-Guay, Eros, 2014
Lee Harvey Roswell, Hephaestus, 2014
Bradley Platz, Artemis, 2014
Hannah Yata, Demeter, 2014
In 2015, we decided on a pop-culture portrait show where each artist was invited to select a comic book superhero. There are numerous Superhero-themed shows each year, but the goal was to focus on portrait paintings of Superheroes. I think the overall effect was exciting, and the gallery shots from this show are some of my favorite.
Leilani Bustamante, Phoenix, 2015
Henry Schreiber, What a Mouse, 2015
Craig LaRotonda, Son of Krypton, 2015
Primary Hughes, Daughter of Themyscira, 2015
Portraits of Friends (2016)
Last year, we decided to make the portrait show personal. The theme was very open-ended. Paint a portrait of your friend, and tell us a story through your visual depiction. There were no size requirements, and this show was by far our most eclectic. I think it was a simple theme, but also something fresh and new, and it was also a rewarding experience all around.
Aunia Kahn is a multi-faceted creative entrepreneur and a globally awarded, collected, and exhibited figurative artist/photographer, published author, instructor, and inspirational speaker. We asked Aunia a few questions for her artist of the day feature at the gallery.
Since childhood my family inspired me to embark on various creative journeys such as music, poetry, and theater, which are hereditary to the creative approaches I use in my artwork today. From a young age I wrote and performed songs and poetry, as well as acted in a local theater with my whole family. When I came to the US to study art, I joined the school called Safehouse Atelier, which focused on traditional academic drawing and painting, as well as digital concept art.
On February 12, we opened Secret Hallway the highly anticipated solo exhibition from Oakland-based artist Nadezda. Focusing on narratives carefully gathered from the hidden chambers of her imagination and transformed into dreamscapes, her multifaceted artworks are the intimate windows into the inner world of her peculiar characters and creatures.