Rummaging around in the Southern Ohio Museum’s growing permanent collection a few years ago, Chief Curator Sara Johnson was surprised to realize how many portraits and self portraits had accumulated, more than enough to inspire the major exhibition which opens in the Kricker Gallery on Friday, October 12.
“A Face in the Crowd” features dozens of works from the collection, some of them very familiar, like “Let Us Give Thanks,” the collection’s 1943 flagship painting of a family gathered in prayer around the dinner table by native son Clarence Holbrook Carter, who was born near Portsmouth in 1904. Other works are being shown here for the first time, including the 1895 Russian icon of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, a historic Greek bishop of the 4th century who became the model for Santa Claus.
“A Face in the Crowd” also refers to Mark Chepp, Director Emeritus of the Springfield Art Museum who now devotes most of his time to painting. The museum has selected eleven recent self portraits by Chepp, including humorous interpretations of his image representing each of the seven deadly sins, to function as a show-within-a-show. “Mark’s paintings are fascinating amalgams of traditional portraiture and digital technology,” noted Johnson. “They could stand alone as a fully accomplished solo show, but in this context they spritz a fresh, contemporary energy into the gallery experience.”
Other artists represented in “A Face in the Crowd” include renowned American sculptors Jack Earl and William McVey, the late fiber artist Lenore Davis, Portsmouth realist Will Reader, Tamara Jaeger of Columbus whose found wood assemblages have appeared here in earlier exhibits, Constance McClure of Cincinnati who donated her large “Purcell Family” portrait after it was featured in a previous group show at the museum, and Portsmouth native Marsea Howland Ilio.
Seeing a crowd of people in the gallery “always make me happy,” commented museum Administrative Director Pegi Wilkes, who expects a very good audience for the new exhibition. With this show, she confided, “even in the unlikely event that you’re the only person in the gallery, more than fifty faces will be there to welcome you and return your gaze.”
“A Face in the Crowd” and a variety of special museum programs connected to the portrait theme will continue through December 28. Call 740/354-5629 for more information or to schedule a free guided tour for groups of ten or more. Visit www.somacc.com for a complete schedule of events.