Smithfield Lake by Jesse Burke
From the traditional to the surreal, from the abstract to the literal, from the humorous to the sublime; it can all be found this month at Froelick Gallery's "First Person."
This juried show of self-portraits includes 50-plus images of artists, mostly from the local area, and mostly recent. One notable exception is a 1975 Cindy Sherman as Lucille Ball. (Since Sherman's oeuvre consists of images of herself as other personalities, I wonder what a portrait of Sherman as Sherman would really look like.) Some artists are represented by more than one image. Almost all imaginable mediums are used.
This is an eclectic mix, indeed. Fine technical skill and draftsmanship drew me immediately to Julia Ann Smith's "Restraining Influence." With her Caravaggesque sideways glance Smith invites the viewer to speculate on what would happen if the entwining vines released her.
Jesse Burke's "Smithfield Lake" has an air of uncomplicated honesty about it. Yet there is more to this than just wondering who's minding the barbecue. Look in his eyes.
Shawn Ferris goes surreal, using somewhat obvious (and very humorous) metaphors in her "Getting Ready for the Big Dance."
More than one artist uses the completely, and mystifyingly, abstract. Tudor Mitroi's "Wandering Staff 2" and "Wandering Staff 7" are maps imposed on imaginatively shaped wood bases.
Does the self-portrait really show us the soul of the artist? Is it a glimpse into the psyche or merely a snapshot of a moment? These images answer those questions and many more, depending on the viewer's knowledge of the artist and perception of his or her self.