2013-09-12 / News

100 faces on display at JAC


Julie Smith for the first time will unveil “100 Women Over 50,” a project of 100 portraits that she started in 2008, at the arts center on Thursday, Sept. 12. 
Courtesy/Jess George Julie Smith for the first time will unveil “100 Women Over 50,” a project of 100 portraits that she started in 2008, at the arts center on Thursday, Sept. 12. Courtesy/Jess George The Jamestown Arts Center will present the opening of “100 Women Over 50” by Julie Shelton Smith on Thursday, Sept. 12, from 6 to 9 p.m. The project, started in 2008, has culminated with the final portrait done of Pebbles Wadsworth, the arts center’s board president.

Each portrait takes about six hours to complete. Smith says she spends time engaging in meaningful conversations with the subject during the session.

“We talk a lot, mostly about birth families,” she said. “Almost everyone has a pretty crazy tale to tell. I certainly do. This became a common way of connecting, telling our stories. I wish I could write some of these truly amazing biographies but it would shatter the intimacy of the experience.”

The exhibit will also include Smith’s abstract work, which serves as a striking contrast to her portraiture. After spending six hours painting a portrait, Smith is left with a mound of leftover paint, so she found a release in the freedom to play in utilizing the paint for abstract work. As opposed to the more rigid painting style of her portraits, Smith says that her abstract work is like using a different part of the brain.

“Many sitters express how unusual it is to be truly looked at,” she says. “It is not the norm in our culture to be so closely, visually studied. Mostly we feel it’s rude or invasive but it actually creates an intimate space for painter and sitter. No longer are the over 50s invisible. This project is about regaining visibility and power in a culture that is youth obsessed.”

This will be the first time the complete set of 100 portraits will be on view.

Also, a sneak preview of “Why The Face: 100 Portraits of Women Over 50 by Julie Shelton Smith,” a film by Elizabeth Delude-Dix, will be shown. Delude-Dix is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker. Her work has screened nationally on public television and internationally at festivals and universities.

The film is a studio visit where the final portrait comes alive on canvas. Viewers can listen to what the painter and the sitter have to say about life, love and getting older.

Shot over three days, the film takes a close look a look at color theory, palette layout, brush stroke, representation, abstraction, and historical influences found in the paintings.

The film is a luscious immersion in color but Smith is not painting just another pretty face.

Dix’s work has been screened nationally on public television and internationally at festivals and universities. Often the films explore untold corners of history and the unexpected in art.

Smith was born and raised in Texas. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, she moved to Aspen, Colo., where she attended the Center of the Eye School of Photography. After five years, Smith relocated permanently to the East Coast. In 1993, she received her master’s degree with honors in painting and printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design.

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