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Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

Portrait Society Gallery’s Everyday People

‘Real Photo Postcard Survey’ captures essence of humanity

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Whereas “reality” entertainment often relies on a carefully planned series of falsehoods, artistic realism uses the natural beauty and emotion of our surroundings to depict life.

Unaltered human beauty is on display in the Portrait Society Gallery’s current exhibition “The Real Photo Postcard Survey” by J. Shimon and J. Lindemann.

Beginning in January, the nationally recognized Shimon and Lindemann collaborated with gallery owner Debra Brehmer to photograph “everyday people” at their Manitowoc studio.

More than 160 portraits were taken during a six-month span using a vintage palladium printing technique popular during the early 1900s. The July opening of the exhibit displayed the diversity of the human figure without digital enhancement or retouching. This sensitive, serene exhibit documents a real moment in time for each person.

In Gallery A, one wall features 16 portraits taken in 2010 mounted alongside late-19th-century portraits. Only the clothes and accoutrements have changed, as the timeless facial expressions transcend centuries. Across the hall in Gallery C are five portraits enlarged to color Epson prints on canvas (6 feet high and more than 2 feet wide). The large-sized images impart the monumental status of the human form, regal interpretations of a person’s uniqueness.

On the enlarged portrait of Harry James Hanson, the fox collar encircling his neck draws attention to his face and enhances his debonair pose. A portrait of an elderly woman captures her life experience.

It’s a reminder that portraiture captures those who influence others’ lives. The grandeur of portraits especially can be seen in the predominant black-and-white format, which accentuates these memorable faces. In a world that often dismisses the common and the flawed, these photographs elevate each figure and personality in the exhibition to honor the attributes and characteristics that make all of us wondrously human.

The exhibition continues through Oct. 2, with a catalog for purchase at the Portrait Society Gallery. Photographer Vanessa Winship exhibits children’s portraits from the Republic of Georgia in Gallery B.

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