Portraits by three artists at Kara Taylor Gallery


“People You Know, People You Don’t Know” is the title of a new exhibit at the Kara Taylor Gallery in Chilmark. The portraits of three artists, Taylor, Brooke Adams, and Robert Davies, are on display. The opening reception was postponed, and now will be held on Sunday, August 29, 5 to 8 pm.

Taylor knew Adams was planning to create portraits, and was Taylor’s inspiration, along with Robert Davies, who she felt has made remarkable graphite (pencil) portraits. By adding two very different artists to her own portraits, Taylor developed the current three-artist exhibition.

Adams’ work occupies the front of the gallery, and consists of familiar Island faces and friends, including poet and activist Rose Styron, painter Rez Williams, and actor and writer Jenny Allen. “Mostly they’re some of the people I love,” Adams said in an interview last week. Some are easily recognizable, while some, like singer Kate Taylor, come more out of Adams’ imagination: “The idea of showing with Kara in her gallery, which happens to have been Stanley Murphy’s gallery and he was the person that inspired me to do portraits, came before Kara asked me to show with her.” Adams also said, “The three of us are such different artists, it seemed like it could be a fun mixed display from different angles. I’m proud to be included.”

Taylor started her work last fall and finished this spring. “We worked on them all year,” said Taylor in a recent interview: “I was in Cape Town all winter. I wish I’d had more time.” She has done an oil portrait of Benazir Bhutto, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. “I was intrigued with who she really was,” Taylor said. “She was sort of a controversial figure; there was corruption, and she was assassinated.” The artist placed columbines around her, which for her represented deception.

“Marie Colvin I knew personally, and I wanted to memorialize her.” A journalist, Colvin died in Syria when the building she was in was shelled. Taylor’s portrait of Frida Kahlo is a full-length image of the symbolist painter. Taylor admired her for this reason. “I think of myself as a symbolist,” she said, and this aspect of her work is illustrated by her use of flowers in many of her portraits.

“I’ve never painted portraits before,” Taylor said. “It’s a challenge. There are subtle nuances in an expression.” The Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has been paired in a portrait with Robin Rosenberg, a federal judge she knew. Rosenberg is also a friend of Taylor’s, and spends summers in Chilmark. Another portrait is of Pina Bausch, a famous dancer and choreographer. “She was an inspiration to me,” said the artist. “I love her choreography.” This painting was done in dim light to represent the stage atmosphere.

Much of Robert Davies’ work in graphite or pencil is displayed on one wall in the main section of the gallery. These graphite portraits, hung in two horizontal rows, pair a famous person with one less-known that he knows. Davies has included a booklet with his portraits, describing each of the figures he’s drawn, including singer David Bowie and filmmakers Mike Leigh and David Lynch. Films and reading — he’s an avid reader — inspired his portraits, most of which were done last year. “It’s an amalgam of people I know paired with famous people,” the artist, who comes from London, said.

“People You Know, People You Don’t” will be up through Sunday, Sept. 5. The last show of the season includes new landscapes by Taylor. The Kara Taylor Gallery, 24 South Road, Chilmark, is open Thursday through Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm, and will remain open through Columbus Day.