"We the People"
June 30- July 13
Reception: Friday July 7, 7-9 PM, all welcome
Little Gorgeous Things continues our summer exhibitions with Virginia artist Patte Ormsby and her solo show “We, The People”, a study in life-size (& larger than life-size) silhouettes and body-prints.
“We, the People” is a show about my approach to figurative paintings. It’s the culmination of two series of new work, with the common theme of portraying the figure in a contemporary, non-conventional way."
"In my paintings, I use the life-size silhouette to describe the person portrayed without the distraction of detailed facial portraiture. Outline and shape define the figure and make body language important for communicating visual clues to the subject’s persona. The media I chose for my paintings reflects my interest in contrasting the traditional with the unconventional. They are painted on aluminum faced fiberglass board using the old world techniques of translucent oil glazes and metal leaf. "
"The body prints, are a “hands on” direct relief treatment of the figure. Human impressions are made by painting live models and imprinting their image on hand made paper. The result, always dramatic, is rich in form and surface texture. Like the paintings, the body prints are an abstraction of traditional portraiture; and while they approach anonymity, it is surprising just how much individual identity is revealed. "
About Patte Ormsby
Patte Ormsby, who grew up summering in Wellfleet says, “The Cape art scene has always been a major influence in my life. I began making and selling driftwood paintings and T-shirts in Wellfleet shops and galleries as a young teenager. I earned college money working in galleries, modeling for Xavier Gonzalez and Ethel Edwards and cleaning the homes of noted artists and architects. I spent summers dusting the very artwork I was studying in art history during the rest of the year! How could I do anything but become an artist myself?”
Ormsby has a degree in studio art and art history from Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA. She studied oil gilding and glazes with Michael Kramer, Gilder’s Studio, at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Her work has won numerous awards and is included in private collections throughout New England, New York, London, Washington, DC and Virginia. Patte lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia with her husband, Bill, and their three sons.
Excerpt of Review of Patte Ormsby by Dave Smalley, in the Free Lance-Star, March 2, 2006
"It's cool. And you want one. Those are the two thoughts that keep running through your brain as you check out the highly distinct works from Patte Ormsby. Even her name is cool. And real, just like her work. The pieces in her exhibit...are distinctly non-erotic, but they are expressly about the human form."
"A naked body, paint, paper, glaze--sounds erotic, doesn't it? There are even some grommets thrown in here and there, straight from the Home Depot, if you want to stretch your imagination of the possible. But Ormsby's exposure of homo sapiens isn't concerned, at least on the surface, with the sensual as much as it is with the process of exploration, experimentation and presentation."
"There was Reubens, whose females large and lovely defined beauty. There was Lichtenstein, whose women and men looked perfect in the most American way possible: straight out of a comic book. And today there's Ormsby, who portrays women--and men, including her own sons--as textured, creased and colorful creatures where the medium is at least part of the message itself."
"In short, to appreciate Ormsby, you have to appreciate distinct vision mixed with original technique. "I did some body prints for a print show at [Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts]," she recalls. "And practiced on myself." The process requires the subject to be semiclad, or less. "I prepare their skin with a light coat of Vaseline or oil," Ormsby said. After all, whether coated with gold leaf or paint, the model is going to need to rejoin the rat race at some point. After the patient is prepped for this artistic surgery, a wide array of water-based and latex paints is applied. Ormsby then pats the victim down with handmade paper. "Depending on where you pat, you can distort the image," she said with a laugh. What you see is not necessarily what she got. Or maybe you're seeing the form as it really is, in its essence, just as the artist saw it--with an extra emphasis on a pectoral bulge, or a round nose, that captures more of a person's true self than any reflection in the mirror."
"After the body, the paint, the paper and the pats comes the equally important part: the background. Some of those are simple, just a reflection of the paper's texture, in a different shade of cool. Others are complex.
Ormsby captures contrast. The result is a stunning and unique presentation of the human form. Each painting might have a hundred different variations, de-pending on the paint used, the paper chosen, the grommets and other textures included, and the subject's distinct body size and shape." "I knew I wanted to do big paintings," Ormsby explains. "When I told my sister, she said, 'Go big or go home.'" Ormsby studied oil gilding and metal leaf at the Smithsonian, and has won a slew of Best in Show awards at various exhibits over the years. But what matters in the end is: Does this art move you? This art does. "I view the silhouette as a portal," Ormsby muses, "a portal into another spatial plane. It's a keyhole." Open and expand your mind. Repeat as necessary."