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Fred Bell & Livija Patikne: A Conversation

March 15 - March 29, 2012

Opening reception: March 15, 6-8pm.

Portrait Society is pleased to announce an exhibition of work by painter Fred Bell, inspired by the 1950s and 1960s still life photographs of Livija Patikne.

The exhibition, in three rooms of the gallery, carries a dialog between Fred Bell’s paintings and Livija’s photographs that heightens our awareness of how each medium’s vocabulary renders emotional states.

Livija Patikne (1911-2001) was originally from Latvia but had lived in Milwaukee for much of her adult life. When she had to leave her apartment to enter a nursing home, the apartment manager closing out her residence gave photographer James Brozek boxes of slides. Brozek said he “felt something” for this body of work and kept the slides tucked away in his closet for 15 years.

During the 1950s and ‘60s, Livija would create simple flower arrangements and then dedicatedly photograph them in still-life compositions. She also photographed each new floral arrangement that she would leave on the grave of her husband who had died in 1959.  A small group of this work was introduced last year at Portrait Society in the More than Real: The Death of Kodachrome exhibition. A larger exhibition of Livija’s work will open at the James Watrous Gallery in Madison July 6 through August 19, 2012.

Fred Bell has done a number of projects with the gallery over the past three years. He studied with Henry Hensche in Provincetown, Mass in the 1970s and then lived in New York City for 15 years before returning to Milwaukee. Fred is much admired for his warm and robust approach to the portrait.  He became interested in Livija’s photographs for their strong emotional pull, delicate beauty and rather lonely sentiments and entered an active dialog with her in creating this new body of work.

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