North View Gallery

Sylvania CT 214 Building | Gallery Director: Vicki Wilson

Subjective: Gwenn Seemel & Becca Bernstein

Portrait painters, Becca Bernstein and Gwenn Seemel, team up to explore the same subjects, each from their own unique perspective.

January 7 to February 5, 2010
8am to 4pm, Monday through Friday
Artist Talk in the Gallery:
Wednesday, January 13, 12:30pm to 1:30pm Reception to follow.

Gwenn Seemel & Becca Bernstein: Artists' Statement

Portraits are very good at pretending.  They convince you that they are human by inviting you to talk to them as you would their subjects.  They call out to be named for the people they purport to represent: a portrait of mom naturally becomes "mom’s portrait" or simply "mom" in conversation.  They discourage a potential defacing more forcefully than another artwork by looking so much like a person with feelings.  Portraits are deft impersonators, but they are not the person themselves—and not just because they are made of pigment and binding instead of flesh and blood. 

A portrait is not a painting of a person because it is actually a painting of two people, or, more specifically, the space between those two people.  When an artist sits down to paint an individual, she is actually painting the person whom that individual shows her and not the person who that individual is to anyone else.  In that sense, the subject of a portrait is not actually the subject of that portrait, but rather a representation of the chemistry between those two people.

Gwenn Seemel: Bio

Gwenn Liberty Seemel is named after the Liberty Bell, a cracked ding-dong with a venerable history.  She is a working artist who has sold her soul to the genre of portraiture.  She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her sweetheart.

Becca Bernstein: Bio

Becca Bernstein earned a BA in Drawing, cum laude, at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She also studied at the University of Glasgow and interned at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Bernstein was selected by Southwest Art Magazine in 2008 as one of 21 emerging artists to watch. She won the Kimberley Gales Emerging Artist Award in 2005, the Lake Oswego Public Art Award in 2007, the George Sugarman Foundation Grant in 2007 for socially conscious artists, and a Puffin Foundation Grant in 2009. Her work can be found in the public collections of the City of Lake Oswego, Oregon, the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, the Northwest Business for Culture and the Arts and the Oregon Ballet Theater. She is represented by the Phoenix Gallery in Park City, Utah and Gallery Heinzel in Aberdeen, Scotland. Bernstein also earned a grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council for her 2008 conceptual installation at the Portland Building.  She is mentioned in Art in America magazine for her awards. 

Bernstein's work focuses on human relationships, family, and aging. She explores issues of human fragility and strength in what she describes as "the awkward dance of human interdependence." Bernstein has also worked closely with residents of senior long-term care homes in Oregon and Scotland since 1998. In her 2008 artist's statement for The Last Room she wrote, "I am witness to the modern anomaly of dividing the tribe—of the separation of generations from one another, each to their respective institutions. As an artist, my interest in this subject has led me to seek out communities of all kinds for my work, both traditional and uniquely present-day, exploring the relationships we have developed or abandoned in this contemporary age."

Images from the Exhibition

Click on an images below to view it in more detail:

  • Painting from "Subjective" exhibit
  • Painting from "Subjective" exhibit
  • Mother - Gwenn Seemel
  • Mother - Becca Bernstein