DK’s Hot Sheet
Few artists are as gifted at self-promotion as Gwenn Seemel. The Portland artist has an ingenious knack for letting the world know what she’s up to and when to expect her latest exhibit—but in a charmingly winning way that suggests she’s not solely in marketing mode.
Of course, it’s the work that matters, and the artist is up to something unusual in her paintings. Seemel works solely in the genre of portraiture. And over the past several years, she’s painted portraits of countless local figures, from politicians to artists, with a lot of interesting people in between.
What’s more, Seemel has found slightly idiosyncratic ways to find subjects, at one point even incorporating personal ads on Craigslist to meet some subjects.
In her latest show in Eugene’s Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts, Seemel tackles the notion of “Americaness” by painting first- and second-generation Americans. But she adds a twist to these portraits of recent American immigrants and citizens by incorporating iconic American figures and symbols, such as Susan B. Anthony, Elvis Presley and Superman. The show, Apple Pie, seems to ask gently: What’s really “American”?
©2009 The Oregonian