Portraits of a Lady
Sunday September 22 at 2pm, Hampton Library, Bridgehampton (40mins)
Q/A with director Neil Leifer and producer and artist Walter Bernard
The Painting Group was created 50 years ago by caricaturist David Levine and artist Aaron Shikler. They gathered together some two dozen amateur and professional painters who wanted to meet once a week to create portraits. They hired male and female models to sit for them and each model sat for one three-hour session per week for a total of four weeks. Walter Bernard joined The Painting Group because he wanted to make a documentary film about this unique bunch of painters. But, as he told me, “I couldn’t get backing.”
Walter remembered reading that of the many, many different portraits painted of George Washington, it’s the Gilbert Stuart portrait that is most often shown, because, as others have noted, we want to believe that’s George Washington. “That got me thinking that we, The Painting Group, should find a national figure to sit for us.”
Through a series of mutual connections and some always welcome serendipity it came to pass that on October 10, 2006 former Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, sat for a six-hour sessions.
The documentary records each artist as he or she struggles to achieve a one-day “premier coup” (first impression) of this world renowned woman. The documentary also reveals the wit and charm of O’Connor as she tells stories and interacts with the artists. The camera is rolling as each artist puts down his or her very first brush stroke, and it is still recording as each one adds the last dot. The 25 portraits are finished, each one unique to each artist’s vision. Reflecting on that memorable day, Bernard says he realized, “It takes three people to make a portrait: the person sitting for the portrait, the artist creating the portrait, and the person looking at the portrait.”
“Portraits of a Lady” concludes on that very note at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. for the March 2007 exhibition of all the portraits of Sandra Day O’Connor created by The Painting Group.
Reservations requested Hampton Library 631 537-0015