I have set up my painting studio in a storefront window at 356 Marcus Garvey Blvd, so that passersby can watch me at work on weekdays and come in to talk about the work and commission portraits. The portraits, complemented by a blog, capture the experiences, aspirations, and tensions in this historically African-American working class neighborhood as it undergoes sharp economic and social changes.
As a representational painter, I encourage one sitting to get to know a person, and then complete the work from a photograph. Commissions from photos are also accepted. If a person wants, I take photos while we are talking to work from later, often as oil sketches. In one instance, I visited a man’s elderly mother in her home to sketch by her bedside.
In my interactions at Window Studio, I share my artistic belief that as people we are like onions, made up of layers of experiences that aren’t apparent on the surface. My portraits imply these other aspects by including objects important to the sitter as well as incorporating reflections in windows in the background.
The intended impact of the project is to increase the cultural resources of a historically underserved neighborhood, which nonetheless has a long artistic tradition of its own, and a great respect for the value of art. Window Studio gives people the opportunity to see art in the context of daily life, and expands on the resources that already exist by connecting them into the broader network of artists and art institutions in the city.
In addition to the ability to watch an artist at work during the day, open workshops in the afternoon/evenings have engaged people of all ages and levels on a drop-in basis or for a monthly membership. Kids come by after school, adults after work to draw and paint together.
At Window Studio, we are creating an ongoing dialogue between art both as a practice and an experience in the context of our everyday lives that is vibrant, ever-surprising, and fun!
Additional Websites: www.annelafond.com