Leroy Forney

Artist, Oil Painter

THREE Artistic Interpretations of OCCUPY PHILADELPHIA


When I left off adding to my blog, the Kickstarter project was still underway.  Wow.  I’ve been working feverishly since then, and a lot has happened as a result.  I feel like I am just now coming up for air, and only now have time for things like this – posting to my blog.  Feels pretty good!

That the Kickstarter funding went down in flames is too bad, but it hasn’t been the end of the world after all.  I even received several commissions for portraits from the effort, so that is money that has come in without having to pay the Kickstarter fees and deductions.  In any cased, I continued to paint portraits on site at City Hall, and at Occupy committee meetings and assemblies after the City Hall Eviction of November 30th.  By this time I have created 25 portraits, and am calling the project complete unless there are additional commissions that come from the exhibition.

 Alyce remains a favorite of mine

That didn’t mean there wasn’t anything else to do on the project, however.   To get ready to exhibit the collection, I have painted a 36ft long backdrop for the portraits, designed the layout, assembled and published a full-color Catalog for the show, and also printed black and white 11×17″  posters which have a very different feel to them than do the oil portraits.

I gotta tell ya, that Catalog took a lot of work.  All the portraits had to be photographed and worked up.  I even had to learn how to use Photoshop (parts of it, anyway) to pull it all together.    That Photoshop — it really does do everything, but it is a BEAST of an application!

—–  Two pages from the Catalog   —–

Oh, Yes, talking about the Exhibition.  The Friends’ Center was planning a fundraising banquet for Occupy, at which time my portraits were to be exhibited, and then the exhibition was to continue.  The plans did not hold together, unfortunately, and the banquet was cancelled.  Not to be deterred, we decided to have the exhibition in spite of that, with a Reception for it this COMING SUNDAY, FEB 19 at the Friends’ Center, 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, from 2:00 to 5:00pm, and with the exhibition continuing until March 9th !!!!!


That is all pretty great, right?  You bet, but it gets better!  Gail Williams, who I’d taken courses with at PAFA, introduced me to another artist who was already underway in creating an Occupy project,  Elise Kraemer.  Elise’s project is more playful than mine:  She brings in the community to paint large panels that she designs with symbolic Occupiers (avatars?), adding phrases/poems/slogans supplied by real Occupiers.  Collaboration is a key word for Elise.  Ultimately she expects to have 99 panels to sew together as a quilt or tent.  She is enthusiastic, a good artist, and has created a great project.    She agreed to participate in the exhibition at the Friends’ Center too, and will have a set of her panels on display there.  Her work and mine treat the same theme, and provide a great contrast in approach, technology, and focus.

 Kraemer adjusts her Soul of Occupy Philadelphia panels


And yet there is more.  Since the Catalog I created is available on-line, I googled the title to see if it would show up.  It didn’t, but Jon Offredo’s site did.  Jon is a journalist who had put together a set of a dozen or so video interviews with people on-site at the inception of Occupy Philadelphia.  He used readily available, inexpensive equipment to create a digital presentation that is essentially a video documentary.  He’s no longer in the Philadelphia area, but has agreed to have his digital work be included as a third part of the exhibition, with Seth Horwitz designing and pulling together the video presentation.  So this part of the exhibition is itself a collaboration, between Jon Offredo and Seth Horwitz.

A still from one of Offredo’s video interviews


And there you have it.  Three independent artistic approaches, but focused on the same theme and now exhibiting together:  Realistic portraits, interpretive images, and digital videography.


Now, here is a final tip for you.  The Henry Tanner exhibition at PAFA is only one short block away from the Friends’ Center.  So come to the Reception, then head over to see Tanner’s paintings.  And remember that the Tanner exhibition is FREE on Sundays.


Author: Leroy

A scientist by training, I retired to travel, then landed in Philadelphia to paint - and recently, to explore alternative materials for art. Currently I create Bas-relief Cardboards as my unique environmental medium.

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