By Bill Dawers
"About Face," a group show now hanging in the gallery at the Department of Cultural Affairs on Henry Street, explores contemporary portrait painting in Savannah.
But don't expect to see the posed and formal portraits a wealthy patron might commission.
There is much more going on here.
The show's description that greets visitors notes the "alchemical process" in which "the painter becomes the subject, the sitter becomes a mirror, the viewer a reflection."
"About Face" features work from 11 artists: Adrienne Stein, Anelecia Hannah, Angela Burson, Christine Sajecki, Gregory Eltringham, Jeff Markowsky, Jude Harzer, Melinda Borysevicz, Patrick McKinnon, Stephen Cefalo and Troy Wandzel.
Some artists have multiple pieces in the show, while others are displaying just one.
Burson's series of small, highly stylized portraits with a retro vibe proved an especially nice surprise.
Markowsky's one large painting in the exhibit depicts a tattooed, masculine model in a variety of poses and moods; some conveyed in gesture and some more technically refined.
Markowsky's painting has a mythic quality, as does a triptych by Borysevicz that incorporates feathers, bones and shells.
Harzer's works convey something of the emotional complexity of childhood, while a beautiful mixed media piece by McKinnon captures a moment of naive curiosity in a young boy's life.
Troy Wandzel, perhaps the best known portraitist in this show, continues to explore unflinchingly the power in faces seen head-on.
By contrast, Sajecki almost completely obscures the faces in two encaustic works that reference the artist's longstanding and ambivalent relationship with cigarettes.
It's just an excellent show all the way around.
The reception for "About Face" is from 5-7 p.m. July 19.
The show continues through Aug. 2. Almost all the works in the show are for sale. Prices vary.
The city of Savannah Department of Cultural Affairs is at 9 W. Henry St. There's a parking lot on the west side of the buildin, as well as street parking in the immediate area.
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in the Savannah Morning News and blogs at Savannah Unplugged (www.billdawers.com). He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.