There’s article about the animal face that fascinates artisan Jeff Wrench. In his art, on affectation this month at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield, this artifice shines through caricature-like portraits, affecting on truths that are deeper than the bark he depicts.
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“I assignment mostly from photos. I try to aces ones that are interesting,” said Wrench, 53, a self-taught painter from Northampton, while blind his portraits afresh at Hawks and Reed. His assignment can additionally be apparent on some accessible account boxes in Amherst and Florence.
Behind him, sunlight poured through a few ample windows, illuminating a half-dozen oil paintings on a brick wall. One account was corrective application wallpaper as a canvas.
“My administration of acrylic and use of ‘found’ surfaces like wallpaper or acrylic chips draws absorption to the painting as an object, and maybe will acknowledge the adorableness in calmly disregarded things like these accepted materials,” Wrench said. “What is added accepted and admirable than the animal face?”
He gestured to one portrait, a woman dressed in aeon apparel and hair, captured from a arena of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” Sometimes, said Wrench, he takes photographs of TV shows “if addition absorbing comes on.”
In this accurate portrait, the bearding woman stares back with beggared aperture — a attending of apprehension or desire. Heavy acrylic outlines bland features. The woman is admirable and her accouterment is elegant, but the colors Wrench has called adumbration at article added grotesque.
And while Wrench says he didn’t try to abduction annihilation added than what was in advanced of him — that is, a pixilated photo defective capacity — his besom tells a altered story. The account is a abstraction in contrast. There’s abyss to the illustration (in average and accountable matter) and a absolute juxtaposition.
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Both ancestry are acutely human.
“This is one of my admired [portraits],” he continued, pointing to a account of addition woman with adumbral eyes and a absorbed look. The angel was created from a photo that Wrench took of a acquaintance who abounding an interactive exhibit of his (titled “Exquisite Corpse”) aftermost year at Hawks and Reed, a appearance captivated in affiliation with Nina’s Nook buyer and artisan Nina Rossi.
Comparatively, it’s darker than some of his added assignment but no beneath compelling. Thick drops of arid blush dribble bottomward the subject’s anemic face. Adventurous strokes, a audible aspect of Wrench’s style, are axiomatic actuality and in abounding of his added pieces.
“The paint, you can absolutely see it,” he said. “It’s accomplishing absorbing things.”
Wrench, who spent a career in advice technology afterwards accepting academic apprenticeship in the acreage from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, makes art as a circadian ritual. Two years ago, he awash his abode in Connecticut and transitioned into a baby accommodation in Northampton, Wrench says, “to see how cheaply I can live,” accompanying immersing himself in art.
In a agnate way, Wrench’s aesthetic action has evolved. These days, he often engages in what he calls “speed painting,” alive on up to four altered portraits at the aforementioned time and constricting himself to a agreed bulk of time. If his quick efforts about-face into a allotment that’s promising, he dedicates added time to it later.
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So far, the address has paid off. Since demography his aboriginal painting chic 12 years ago (before that he’d alone approved drawing), Wrench has accumulated an all-embracing anatomy of work, with about 50 paintings accessible for affectation “and a hundred added I wouldn’t be accommodating to hang,” he said
His accessible art recognizes some key actual abstracts in Valley history. In Amherst, a account of artisan Robert Frost, at one time a assistant at Amherst College, is corrective on a city account box alongside the adduce “Never be afraid into silence.” On the added ancillary of the box, addition appealing acclaimed artisan with Amherst connections, Emily Dickinson, watches cartage casual on Pleasant and Main streets abutting to one of her quotes, “Pardon my acumen in a apple insane.”
A box in Florence, meantime, displays acclaimed abolitionist Sojourner Truth alongside her words “Truth is able and will abound … I feel safe alike in the bosom of my enemies.”
In style, Wrench’s accessible assignment is a bit of a aberration from that of his flat paintings. It’s ablaze and cheery, apple-pie and distinct, abnormally compared to the grittiness of his portraiture. The aggressiveness of his strokes, however, charcoal the same, as does the backbone of his aesthetic voice.
But while actual and adventurous in his statements, Wrench is quick to say that he’s not a political artisan — alike admitting some assemblage accept assigned that characterization to his assignment in the past.
“Is it the abolitionist aspect? Is it the women’s voting?” he asked.
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During his Greenfield exhibit, Wrench is agreeable in addition activity that could be interpreted as captivation a added abstruse acceptation than is intended.
“I allure visitors to photograph themselves abreast one of my paintings and email it to me or column it on Instagram tagging me, @noisician,” Wrench said. “I will attack to acrylic every face and column it on Instagram until the display is over.”
For Wrench, soliciting paintings in such a way is a agency of calmly accession a advanced array of faces. But, conceivably inadvertently, he’s additionally exploring the circle of amusing media and flat art. Afore the agenda era fabricated it accessible for artists to acquisition afflatus for their assignment online, painters had to assignment alone with alive models, generally professional.
By painting anyone who contributes, Wrench is authoritative a statement: that every face is a aces muse.
Andy Castillo is the appearance editor at the Greenfield Recorder. He can be accomplished at email@example.com.
For added advice and to see a complete set of Wrench’s work, appointment noisician.com or acquisition him on Instagram@noisician. Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center can be accomplished at (413) 774-0150.
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