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Montaigne's Tower

The Mystery of Strangers

Most portraits are of people we know. I prefer to paint strangers: people I saw on the street or met briefly at an art opening or workshop. When you know a person, your perceptions are filtered through the stories you know about them, but a stranger is like an unopened book, asking to be read for the first time; for a story to be made up about them. I met the woman “Juliette” (her real name unknown) in Italy; she is a handsome woman that I imagined in her youth (“Juliette at 25”), middle age (“Juliette at 50”), and old age (“Juliette at 100”). “Hair” is of a woman who seems to be hiding behind her hair; I’ve painted her as if I just discovered her in the jungle of her hair. “The Dwarf King’s Daughter” was inspired by a photograph taken in the 19th century in a book called Princely India: in the midst of a royal gathering, a small man, richly dressed, holds an unhappy child. Or perhaps she’s ill, and this is the last photo taken of her. The man portrayed in “Beauquet,” the trio “Id,” “Ego,” and “Superego,” “Death with Dignity,” and “The Man Who Doesn’t Matter” is a man I met at an art opening several years ago in Forest Grove. I asked if I could take his photograph and paint him, which he kindly permitted, but I never asked his name. Who is he? Would he recognize himself in the stories I’ve created? Does it matter? I think of art as a pilgrimage through unfamiliar landscapes; my job is to stir the pot and see what boils. ("The Mystery of Strangers," art exhibit at New Seasons Market, Orenco Station, Hillsboro, Oregon, August 2017) Read More 
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