A summer full of work behind the scenes will now be front and center at the Firehouse Art Center.
“Seen,” a solo exhibition by Barbara Rudlaff, this summer’s artist in residence at the Firehouse, opens today.
“Seen” features oil portraits of lesbians in her Rudlaff’s circle. The works depict subjects in a realist style against a white background, with all wearing masks for health and safety in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The 12-by-12 portraits are spaced at least 6 feet apart in the gallery, emphasizing the distance while encouraging viewers to draw closer. The uniformity in presentation aims to encourage observers to focus on the details that make each portrait unique — from an emphasis on the direct gaze of the eyes to the subject’s choice of mask design.
Rudlaff chose to depict only lesbians experiencing professional achievement and identifies each portrait by name and professional or job title. Accompanying the portraits are written statements from each person about their experiences since the beginning of the pandemic. The writing is very personal — ranging in style from poetry to prose — and adds a familiarity that mask-wearing usually negates. With Rudlaff painting their faces and eyes in such detail, and subjects sharing their stories in their own words, viewers may feel they know them.
Rudlaff, who is based in Lafayette, describes herself as a representational painter and art instructor. She holds a master’s degree in fine art (painting) from Colorado State University and a painting bachelor’s in fine arts from the University of Colorado Boulder. She has owned her own portrait painting business for more than 10 years and has been a painting and drawing instructor for private students, as well as for the Grumbacher artist supply company for six years.
She also is chair of the Lafayette Public Art Committee and regularly volunteers for art organizations and festivals and Boulder County LGBTQ organizations.
An opening reception for “Seen” will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Firehouse, 667 Fourth Ave. For more information about Rudlaff and other Firehouse artists, visit firehouseart.org.