Literary and artistic impressions at Rundel

Literary and artistic impressions at Rundel

Authors & Artists: Portraits by Bonnie Gloris (

Bonnie 1

Photos provided by Bonnie Gloris

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.

As described by the Rochester Public Library,

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 3

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 2Gloris is the Global Communications Coordinator for American Dance Abroad. She is also a freelance graphic designer and an illustrator for publications such as the European Journal of Neuroscience.

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.

Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov

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.


John Updike

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:


Rabbit Angstrom: A Tetralogy (Everyman’s Library, No. 214) by John Updike (1995). Held at and scanned courtesy of the Brighton Memorial Library. A passage from Rabbit Run.

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.


Frida Kahlo

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.

Chloe Smith's portrait of Frida Kahlo de Rivera. Corn Hill Arts Festival 7/14/18

Chloe Smith’s portrait of Frida Kahlo de Rivera. Corn Hill Arts Festival 7/14/18. From More emerging artists coming of age in Rochester at the Corn Hill Arts Festival

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.

(left) Heny Miller (right) Genius and Lust: A Journey Through the Major Writings of Henry Miller (1976) by Norman Mailer. Held at and scan courtesy of the Rochester Public Library. From

(left) Heny Miller (right) Genius and Lust: A Journey Through the Major Writings of Henry Miller (1976) by Norman Mailer. Held at and scan courtesy of the Rochester Public Library. From A ribbon cutting and the Pages of the Brighton Memorial Library

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.


Visit to see more samples of her artwork and join her mailing list for news about upcoming exhibitions.


Boxes upon boxes of Rochester newspaper history

A periodical lover’s dream at the Rundel Memorial Building

Art of the Book and Nighan’s “The Accordion Book of Short Stories” in Harold Hacker Hall

Not letting the Vietnam War be forgotten at the Vietnam Learning Center with Central librarian Steve Nash

Kitty Jospé provides noon nourishment for the mind at Rundel.

Providing hope for the homeless in the back alcove of Rundel Library

On a Cal Ripken signed 1989 glove, prized possessions, and the Rundel Library


About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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