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Family, Friends, and a Few Strangers

My portfolio of portraits is now up and running.

In my lexicon a portrait is an image made with the cooperation or at least consent of the subject and is intended to represent and identify that person as an individual.

Portraits can be as mundane as yearbook mug shots, as contrived and expressive as Arnold Newman's "Stravinsky", as formal and elegant is Karsh's "Pablo Casals", as cool and intellectual as Cartier-Bresson's "Jean-Paul Sartre, or as personal and connected as Renate Ponsold's "Hedda Sterne" or (I hope) my own.

Frank Horvat, one of the better photographers of which you have likely never heard, said that he regretted that he had not done more portraits in his long career. Me, too.


January's Print of the Month (or thereabouts) is from my "Hangouts" series. The proprietor of Sadie's Tea Shop (oddly enough named Sadie) kept a supply of hats, feather boas, etc. for the customers who felt they needed a bit of elegance to go along with their tea.

This mother and daughter, Sadie told me, came in nearly every Saturday afternoon for tea and cookies.

Daughter had just bitten a cookie and found that "Ooooh, this one's chocolate."


Another Hero Gone

Today's Seattle Times had an obituary for Harold Balasz. I had the pleasure (and it certainly was a pleasure) of being on staff with him for one of the annual Centrum Foundation workshops for gifted high school students. Apart from being an exceptionally talented, skilled, hardworking artist he was a splendid human being -- warmhearted, open minded, funny ... Here's my portrait of him that I wrote about in my blog (complete with misspelled "portrait" that I just noticed.

Another "Harold" anecdote that I just remembered. At the end of the class days at the workshop we of the staff were likely more tired than the students -- they were a lot younger and overcharged with the experience of being in a group of kids each as motivated and eager as they were. One of the older students -- high school senior -- was badgering Harold to draw her portrait. He was tired and ready to throw in the towel for the day but she wouldn't give up. He finally said "Oh, all right. Take off your clothes and I'll draw you." She, flustered, gave up. At the faculty meeting that night somebody asked Harold what he would have done if she had taken off her clothes. Shrug of shoulders -- "She's 18, I would have drawn her."

Harold didn't put up with much socially or politically either. Here's my favorite of his posters -- hanging proudly on the wall behind me as I write.

As the saying goes -- I shall not meet his kind again.

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