People Watching At Fam: Portraits Past And Present

Jon Imber, Self Portrait, 1984, oil on canvas, 66” x 54”.






Flavia Cigliano

From the first primitive marks people made to depict their external world or internal reflections, portraiture has been a major form of expression in art making. The genre has existed across centuries, cultures and art movements. The Fitchburg Art Museum’s (FAM) cur- rent exhibition, “People Watching: Then and Now,” is an outstanding survey of historical and current portraiture that reveals the continued interest in and evolution of portrait painting.

The show is the third and final part of a series of genre painting exhibitions conceived and developed to take a fresh look at works from FAM’s permanent collection in relation to current works of contemporary New England artists. The first two of these shows, “Still Life Lives” (still life) and “Land Ho!” (land- scape) were organized by former FAM Curator Mary M. Tinti and Koch Curatorial Fellow Emily M. Mazzola.

“One of FAM’s goals is to make con- temporary art accessible to our visitors. Such shows set up a scenario in which viewers can see the importance of the past in the present and better under- stand contemporary art through links to historical examples,” explained Curator Lisa Crossman who, with current Koch Curatorial Fellow Lauren Szumita, orga- nized the “People Watching: Then and Now” exhibition.

Thirteen contemporary New England artists are represented in the exhibi- tion: Philip Brou, Susan White Brown, Caleb Cole, Nayda Cuevas, Leslie Graff, Lavaughan Jenkins, Lucy Kim, Steve Locke, Ross Normandin, David Prifti, Kate Russo, Ann Strassman and Tabitha Vevers.

“In choosing the artists, I considered what combination of contemporary works would dialogue well with one another and with the paintings and sculpture from FAM’s collection that would be on view,” stated Crossman. “For this show, I was interested in different approaches to portraiture. Our region has a talented and diverse population of artists. I think my selection reflects this. Diversity in all its forms is important to FAM’s overall exhibition program.”

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