In the gallery space of I Am Logan Square (2644 N. Milwaukee Ave.), small original photographs with larger recreations show a before and after of the show “Community.Memory.Dignity,” a photo exhibit that will be on display until Sunday, Feb. 1.
Some pieces appear to be the original with the text and drawings added. Others are drastically changed by adding 3D components such as tulle, feathers, wire, market, plastic and polyester. In each case, the process was the same: Community members were photographed, then those photographs were recreated by local artists.
Art Captures And Transforms Community
“Community.Memory.Dignity” was inspired by Help Portrait, an international charity that provides free portraits for those involved. Back in December, Help Portrait served 331 people who came into a gallery space, which was set up in the old Pierre’s Bakery. Although this is the fourth year of portraiture in our neighborhood, “Community.Memory.Dignity” was designed this year as a celebration of the artists, curator Kat Seno says. Fifty portraits were available for artists to choose from. Fourteen were then altered for last week’s unveiling at I Am Logan Square. The goal of this show was to “capture, create, and transform memories in more than just the physical sense as Help Portrait does,” according to the show’s description.
Caroline Liu, an oil and acrylic artist, participated in the show in a variety of capacities. She hung the works, was photographed and painted a piece as well.
Liu is a full-time artist who has lived in Logan Square for two years. Previously, she lived in Albuquerque, N.M. In her painting, “Fresh,” she created a background of pink and yellow watermelon slices, which she says is a homage to her hometown. Albuquerque’s Sandia Mountains appear red at sunset, which is why they’re called the Spanish word for “watermelon.” This reference is made into the playful pattern in Liu’s interpretation for the show.
She loves painting facial hair, she says. “It’s so precise, and you can change people’s faces completely with facial hair.” She explained that her piece was hairless until the last day of painting. Her subject, Kevin O., didn’t have his eyebrows painted on his face for five of the six days she worked on him. Although Liu hadn’t met him prior to the show, after staring at his face for so long, “I feel like I know him,” she says. In reality, they are only friends on Instagram, and she knows he’s a photographer.
Along with being an artist and curator for the show, Liu was also a subject. Abbi Rajasekhar recreated Barlich’s photograph of Liu for her own “Superb” in acrylic paint. How does Liu feel about Rajasekhar’s interpretation? “The hair looks friggin’ awesome.”
Kat Seno, who is one of two lead curators for I Am Logan Square, participated by creating her piece “Alex as Mt. Olympus.” She altered a photo of Alex Klier, who is a friend of hers. But she says that’s not why she chose his photo. Rather, she chose it because of his image, which is of him making a silly and awkward face. By adding watercolor stills from Cinderella and Dumbo, she was able to create a whimsical portrait. The ringmaster and crows sit on his shoulder, while a stork sits on his glasses, a mouse on his hair, and birds fly around his head. Seno’s goal was for the painted works to interact with the portrait to create a narrative.
Community’s Diversity On Display
Barlich, who photographed the Logan Square residents, is impressed with the diversity shown. He feels that the photos represent the neighborhood not only in skin color, but in age as well.
Barlich’s own 65-year-old neighbor wasn’t too fond of having his picture taken, according to Barlich. But after being neighbors for two years, Barlich was able to convince him to be photographed for “Community.Memory.Dignity.” From this show, Barlich says he learned about building relationships and how it leads to a great portrait.
“True relationships breed beautiful artwork,” he says.
Proceeds from “Community.Memory.Dignity” will benefit the artists, with only 20% of sales helping the gallery keep its doors open. This show will be on display until Sunday.
I Am Logan Square’s next show will be a collection of romantic movie posters. It is currently planned to debut on Friday, Feb. 13 at 6 pm.