The Art of the Portrait Conference 2016: Opening Nightby Matthew Innis |
If it is true that the opening act sets the tone for the show that follows, then the Face Off event that opens each The Art of the Portrait Conference never fails to promise a great weekend.
During the Face Off, a group of artists split into parties of three, with each smaller group working from a single model, painting portraits from life in front of the Conference’s attendees. For the The 18th annual The Art of the Portrait Conference, 15 professional artists were chosen to create pictures while 5 of their peers kindly agreed to assume the role of muses. Max Ginsburg, Michele Dunaway, and David Kassan painted Shana Levenson; Judith Carducci, Anna Rose Bain, and Teresa Oaxaca painted Wende Caporale; Carol Arnold, Casey Childs, and James Gurney painted Rich Nelson; Robert Liberace and Romel de la Torre painted Tony Ryder, while Alica Ponzio sculpted a bas-relief of him; and Elizabeth Zanzinger, Ricky Mujica, and Quang Ho painted Leslie Adams. The finished painted sketches, created in under 3 hours, remain on display for the entire weekend, and are later sold at auction with the proceeds benefitting Portrait Society of America programs, including those that offer tuition for deserving young artists to attend future conferences.
The structure of the Face Off allows attendees to watch many top artists at work all at once. Some observers pick a particular artist to watch from start to finish, and possibly ask questions of the artists during breaks. Most of the audience, however, remains in flux, checking the progress of all the participants, while making use of event to find friends from previous conferences and socialize.
At the same time as the Face Off took place in the Grand Ballroom at the Reston Hyatt Regency, the doors were also open to the Art Material’s Room and to the Finalist Room. In the latter, the paintings chosen to compete for the prestigious William F. Draper Grand Prize were on display for everyone to examine closely, and to vote upon for the Popular Choice Award as chosen by the attendees. In the former, makers of some the highest quality, professional-grade artist materials were on hand offering items not generally found in the average art store at specially discounted prices. Attendees freely moved through each room from 4:00pm to 7:30pm.