Thursday, February 27, 2014

Docent is a Noun - Part 2

In 2011, I posted an article on my blog expressing my enjoyment with being a volunteer docent at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (NPG) for the past 17 years. I am inspired by the art that I see there, and enjoy sharing what I have learned with visitors from all over the world. A funny thing happens when you share your passion with others. You are often rewarded with wonderful surprises. Read on to see what I mean.

I have been especially interested in the work that has been on displayed since March of last year in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. This exhibition holds a special place in my heart for several reasons. First, the work that is selected represents the art of the portrait as it is envisioned today by a wide variety of artists and media. Secondly, the pieces are all about the art. The National Portrait Gallery is an art and history museum; therefore, the work on view is often more about the biography of the person being portrayed rather than the artwork itself. I am fascinated by the past, but riveted by visual imagery. Third, the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition was made possible by the vision and generosity of Virginia Outwin Boochever, a fellow docent at NPG, who I had the great fortune to meet in my early days there.

Yesterday marked the final day that the Portrait Competition was going to be on view, so I made sure to include that exhibition in my tour. I was fortunate to have a terrific, and interested group of visitors, and was happily sharing the technical aspects of the art from an artist's perspective. Drawing has always been a great passion of mine, so I was discussing work that was produced in charcoal, a medium that I have enjoyed for years. After a short discussion of the self-portrait by the Ohio artist, Leslie Adams, I was stopped mid-sentence by a woman speaking to me. She told me that what I had said was one of the best descriptions of her work that she had ever heard. I quickly thanked her before realizing exactly what she had said. Then it hit me. "It's YOU," I exclaimed! Indeed it was. The artist of the piece, Leslie Adams, was standing in front of me. Made my day. Leslie is a phenomenal portrait painter from Toledo, Ohio. I am including the drawing that I was discussing here for you to see.

Sensazione: A Self-Portrait by Leslie Adams © 2010 Leslie Adams