Currently adorning the walls of the Central Library of Rochester are 14 distinctive portraits of mostly 20th century writers and painters: Authors & Artists: Portraits by Bonnie Gloris.
Bonnie’s colorful and carefully rendered portraits that feel like family photos — variously marked by playful allusions to themes and motifs from the authors and artists works and lives — provoke our own impressions of the iconic figures.
Stop by the Central library, now through February 15, 2019 to check out the “Authors & Artists” exhibit, in the Anthony Mascioli Gallery on the first floor of the Rundel Memorial Library building. This exhibit features paintings and collages of artists & authors, showcasing the lives of important cultural figures, provoking thought about their contributions to society.
Bonnie Gloris is an arts administrator, fine artist, illustrator/designer, and curator, originally from Albany, NY. She earned a BFA from Parsons School of Design (NYC) and completed the Master of Arts Management program at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA). She now resides in Rochester, NY.
Bonnie has participated in group and solo art shows across the country. Recent venues for her work include The Gallery 4, The Fort Pitt Museum and SPACE gallery.
To learn more, I asked Bonnie why she chose these authors/artists and how she shaped her own interpretations. We selected four authors/artists. For each, Bonnie provides background information; while I offer some memories.
BG: The Authors is an ongoing series of portraits of authors I admire. Realistic depictions of the subjects are combined with collage elements that give insight into their personalities and the personalities of their characters. Many of the author portraits are miniature in scale, humbling the iconic figures’ portraits to the intimate level of family photos.
Lolita was the first novel I read by Nabokov. I was impressed by his ability to take a topic as subversive as pedophilia and somehow make the perpetrator (almost) sympathetic. In the portrait, Lolita’s awkward, girlish, endearing legs loiter in the recesses of Nabokov’s mind; the striped wallpaper a prison for his tortured thoughts. One stripe suggestively penetrates the “O” of his hand-lettered name.
DK: Bonnie’s portrait reminded me that back in college I pretentiously memorized the opening passage of Lolita. Decades later, we held an Impromptu poetry slam at Lux Lounge. Participants wrote poems about Lux Lounge on 666 South Avenue. Unexpectedly, I still remembered the passage in which, for the slam, I replaced Lolita with Lux. Someone who did not know the lifted passage was from Nabokov thought I had surprising poetic ability.
BG: Updike‘s expression reveals his amusement in observing the nuances of everyday suburban life. His all-American characters are frequently faced with ennui and temptation, as symbolized by the woman’s hand offering Updike an apple, and they must decide whether to run away from or toward responsibility. The folksy rabbits leaping across the wallpaper in this portrait allude to his Rabbit books.
DK: Bonnie’s portrait reminded me when I listened to Updike’s tetralogy about ten years ago while bicycling around Monroe County. For some reason, when listening at the Mendon Pond’s Nature Center, one passage stuck in memory:
Here, from the beginning of Rabbit Run, Updike masterfully juxtaposes his characters watching a platitudinous episode of The Mouseketeers with a single glimpse into Rabbit and Janice’s psyche that reveals much about their personalities. Updike shows how his secular characters who rarely display religiosity are nonetheless semi-consciously driven by guilt over their religious inattention or fear that God will judge them poorly in the end. Fittingly, the Mendon Ponds Nature Center is operated by Heritage Christian Services.
BG: A few years ago, I began my Couples series, which features double (and triple) portraits of iconic couples throughout history, including artists, writers, and other intriguing personalities. Kahlo and Miller are part of that series. I find it fascinating when “creative types” form couples, as the relationships are so often tumultuous. In my experience, artists are better balanced by more pragmatic partners.
Kahlo is paired with a portrait of Diego Rivera, her husband and fellow artist. Kahlo’s ability to translate her often-painful life into her moving, dream-like paintings is inspiring to me, and has been inspiring to so many female artists.
DK: Bonnie’s portrait reminded me when I discovered Cloe Smith’s portrait of Kahlo at the 2018 Corn Hill Arts Festival. In both works, color is paramount.
BG: I have also been drawn to the surrealist, passionate writings of Miller, as well as to those of Anaïs Nin, who he was “paired” with in the Couples series. While their relationship was relatively short and they did not marry, they were profoundly influenced by one another and wrote prolifically during that time.
DK: Bonnie’s portrait reminded me how I discovered Genius and Lust when shelving books as a page at the Brighton Memorial Library in the late 70s and early 80s. Miller’s frank and vivid depictions of sex were revelatory for this inquisitive library page, one then almost wholly lacking in worldly experience
Visit this fascinating exhibit yourself and see what triggers your own imaginative flights of fancy and recall.
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR IMPRESSIONS/MEMORIES IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW.
SEE ALSO ON RUNDEL