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Face to Face: Portraits of our Vibrant City 2019

Welcome to our 2019 collection of community portraits resulting from Face To Face: Portraits of Our Vibrant City

Face To Face: Portraits of Our Vibrant City uses the intimate process of portraiture to connect artists and community members who have different life experiences. Part portraiture and part biography, Face to Face uses the strengths, experiences, and passions of vibrant individuals in our community to inform masterfully created portraits. Strongly in tune with our mission to bridge diverse communities through the arts, this project fosters interpersonal relationships among the people of our city. It initiates dialogue about equity, value, and perception. Portraits are exhibited at the Bridge and then gifted from the artists to the community members.


THE 2019 COLLECTION

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Jacqueline Estes & Eileen French

Portrayed: Jacqueline Estes

Jacqueline is a community minded Charlottesville native. She has raised a daughter as a single mother and is very proud of her daughter Daisa’s success in life as she is now raising a family of her own and enjoying a challenging career as a teacher at Walker Upper Elementary in Charlottesville. She also happily finds time to help care for her sweet 3 yr. old Grandson Granger in her busy week.

Jackie currently works at State Farm after a full career as a teacher at Charlottesville High school where she taught Business Education and was Varsity Head Cheer Coach and VHLS Cheer Judge. Retirement didn’t suit her at all apparently.

Jackie is very involved in her church, Zion Union Baptist Church. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; Inc., the Order of Eastern Star and the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International as well as other professional, community and civic organizations

Jackie celebrates her deep roots in the history of Charlottesville as a descendant of the Granger family of Monticello. She participates in Monticello’s “Getting Word”, an oral history project created by Monticello historians.

The Artist: Eileen French

I have been working on a series of portraits that are derived from found images on social media. With the profuse use of cell phone photography, it seems that portraiture has come into a new era.  I have found a serendipitous way to see into the heart of my subjects while also having them be my co-collaborators.

I also enjoy the connection with my subject that can happen when I reach out to discuss and share my painting ideas and finished products that I have derived from their images. When the Face to Face project came up, where I was able to meet my subject and ask questions about their life and loves in order to inform my art it was a really wonderful treat for me. Meeting Jackie and deciding how to portray her has been a nice way to meet someone who I might not have crossed paths with otherwise and I really appreciate this opportunity. Connecting with each other is such a great path to building a better place for all of us.


Tom Connaughton & Raneem Tarfa

The Artist: Raneem Tarfa

My name is Raneem and I’m an Egyptian-American visual artist from the DC area. I’m currently an undergraduate student at UVA, studying computer science and French. I tend to work primarily in mixed media: primarily oil pastel, gouache paint, and various newspaper clippings. I use my work as a medium to communicate information about a (real or imaginary) subject’s internal entropy or negentropy. It may portray their worries, dreams, eccentricities or views on society. Most pieces hold an emotional significance to me, usually in representation of a different anxiety in connection to love, stress, or even self-doubt. As a multilingual person, I tend to incorporate phrases from languages I’ve studied. I like the sense of secrecy that it denotes, whereas those who do not speak the language do not initially understand the meaning of the phrase until researched. Depending on the language the phrase is in, it allows the piece to be more personal. When I incorporate Arabic text, for example, I’m allowed to reflect on my childhood and the culture that has shaped me into who I am today.

Portrated: Tom Connaughton 

Tom Connaughton grew up in Northern Virginia, which created a deep appreciation for diversity. His parents always conveyed the idea that we’re all more alike than we are different. During his time at the University of Montana he took several classes taught by Professor Ulysses Doss. Professor Doss founded the African American Studies program at the University of Montana. While taking Gandhi and King: The Ethics of Nonviolence Tom witnessed the impact the class had on himself and other students. It was during those courses with Doss that he decided that going into education would be a more meaningful life path. 

After Graduating from the University of Montana with degrees in Resource Management and Wildlife Biology Tom went on to receive a Masters of Education from George Mason University. He taught for a few years in Northern Virginia before heading to Kingston, Jamaica for two years in the US Peace Corps. Jamaica was a wonderful, powerful, and life changing experience. Tom met incredibly kind and generous people while in Jamaica. Living as a minority deepened his empathy and understanding. 

He moved to Charlottesville in 2001 where he met his amazing wife Leslie who has taught him the true meaning of love and kindness. For the past fifteen years Tom has had a dream job as an elementary EL (English Language) teacher. He’s had the opportunity to teach immigrant and refugee students from all over the world. It’s been a rewarding and fascinating experience. In his free time Tom enjoys spending time with family and friends, outdoor adventures, live music, and world travel.


Maureen Brondyke & Leslie Tanner

Portrayed: Maureen Brondyke

Maureen is a community builder and an avid city walker.  You can find her and her husband, Calvin enjoying local food, supporting theatre and arts, hosting dinner parties, and playing pinball.  She is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she was a studio art major.  She dabbled in the art scene in New York City, but was drawn back to Charlottesville for the local flavor and community feel.  Maureen is a staff member at New City Arts where she supports local artists through their exhibitions.  She loves to watch the growth of the artists in developing their work and helps build their confidence in sharing their art with the public.  One of Maureen’s favorite events she runs is SOUP, where the Charlottesville community comes together to share a meal and support local artists and their creative projects.  Maureen creates opportunities not only for artists, but for neighbors, friends and family to gather and support the arts.  We had an opportunity to share about our lives, to discover commonalities in consigning shoes, valuing art, and playing soccer.  Life provides us with opportunities to embrace the people we meet, to share our joys, to help one another grow from our trials,and to share the enthusiasm for what lies ahead. For Maureen and Calvin, it is an April baby! For me, my children have “flown the nest”, so I am looking forward to whatever opportunities are placed before me.

The Artist: Leslie Tanner

My career as an artist began while I was studying scenic design at Davidson College.  This craft allowed me to imagine and then create the visual elements of a story, while also learning techniques of building and painting.  I have learned to paint through trial and error and playing around with mediums and colors.  I taught  middle school theatre, science and art for 15 years and currently I am in a new phase, working with ACAC in the development of their Mind/Body programs.  My favorite part of my career is helping others unleash their potential through art, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and pilates.  Painting has become a way of life for me.  After my morning meditation, I enter onto my canvas where I enjoy the flow and ease of the paint brush and my imagination.  This is my very first portrait and it was risky and challenging and made me question my abilities as an artist.  But mostly it was a reminder that I paint because it brings me joy and I feel that the joy then is brought to the world. 


Sofhia Pineda & Paige Lyons

Portrayed: Sofhia Pineda

Sofhia was born on March 3rd, 2001. Until 8th grade, she lived in San Pedro Sula, Honduras with her mom, dad and older brother. Her family moved to Charlottesville in 2015, and have felt a warm sense of community through the organization Creciendo Juntos. As a part of the Latinx club at AHS, Sofhia helped craft the film: Nosotros. The film was unique in recognizing the experience of youth immigrants. It was screened at AHS high school along with UVA’s Curry School of Education. Graduating high school in 2019, Sofhia is now attending school at Piedmont Community College fulfilling her foundation credits and hopes to transfer to put her in the position to study law as a public defender in criminal justice. During the week, after classes,  she works with her mother at the Interna School of Charlottesville helping to teach Spanish to toddlers. 

 

She enjoys drinking cortado and reading crime novels on the couch at Milli’s Coffee Roasters. Other hobbies she enjoys are thrift shopping, singing in the car, and playing Uno with family. Her dog, an Australian Shepard Mix named Chewie, loves joining her for hikes and walks.

The Artist: Paige Lyons

Paige Lyons was born December 21, 1993. She grew up in suburban Connecticut, and enjoyed wandering the town woods near her home. She went on to study environmental science and art at the University of Wisconsin.  While she was at school, she became fascinated by the design of public spaces. She is currently in her first year of her Masters of Landscape Architecture at UVA. She is particularly interested in how people personally connect to places, and how this feeds back into the protection and care for those spaces. In her free time she enjoys cooking, Pilates and borrowing her friend’s dog to go for walks.  

 

When I sat down with Sofhia, I asked her all sorts of peculiar questions – she can tell you! I was searching for inspiration in the details of her life: the specific kind of bread her family ate with coffee, the favorite toddler she works with, a poem she finds difficult to translate into English. But when I sat down and tried to stitch all the details together, it wasn’t working. It turns out, what resonated with me the most is that Sofhia is a fun person. And that’s what I tried to capture.  (And lavender is her favorite smell.)


Jane Webb & Jum Jirapan

Portrayed: Jane Webb

Jane Webb is an English teacher at J.T. Henley Middle School educating Virginian children since 1976. Teaching with dedication, and passion, she earned the 2008 Golden Apple Award from Albemarle County Public Schools for her excellence in teaching. She is also recognized as one of the “70 Interesting People” in JT Journal 2015.

 

“When I think of Jane, I think of how she teaches: with passion and authority—just like Van Gogh’s brushstrokes. 

 

Visiting Jane’s classroom I was in awe, and along with her young pupils, I was at the edge of my seat—hungry to learn. Commanding, yet warm, she provides her students with the scaffolding that enables them to meet her expectations, and their potential. With art-infused writing lessons, Jane has instilled in these young people an understanding, and appreciation of literature, and art that meet or exceed that of many adults. 

 

As a book lover, I wish she was my teacher, and as a former teacher myself, I wish she had been my mentor. I am so honored to have the opportunity to make Jane’s portrait. Her dedicated, and long teaching career deserves to be spotlighted. Alas, I hope the painting will make you feel like I did sitting across from Jane in the natural light of her living room. I felt the presence of a poised woman sitting comfortably in her home, content with her contribution to the world.”

The Artist: Jum Jirapan

Jum Jirapan is a local Thai American artist and the Bridge’s 2018 public artist collaborative resident. By participating in this project, she hopes to connect, co-create, and strengthen the diverse and unified fabric that underlays this strong community.


Maria Chavalan Sut & Kori Price

Portrayed: Maria Chavalan Sut

When I asked Maria what her story was, she began with what her home used to be. The Keqchikel community where she grew up was enclosed by mountains, filled with old trees. She and her people looked to nature  for guidance on everything from when seasonal rains were coming to the time of day. They respected each other, leaving their homes unlocked, and respected the land because they believe that humans are an extension of the land. When the Guatemalan Civil War came to her community she and her family were forced to leave for three years. When they returned, her village, the land, and the people were forever changed. Maria witnessed the violence and genocide the war brought and was discriminated against like so many other indegenous Guatemalans.

Maria has been through many injustices in her life. She is currently facing yet another while seeking asylum in the US. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) neglected to put a date and time on her notice to appear, which is required by law, and when she didn’t show up on her court date, they ordered her removal from the US. After she began living in sanctuary at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Charlottesville, ICE fined her with over $214,000. Though she faces these challenges and her situation is one of life and death, Maria remains strong. She keeps her focus on her children and the future. Although her life has been shadowed by violence and injustice she believes that change is possible. That change can happen little by little.

How you can help: Follow Maria’s story on the Hands Off Maria Facebook page. Donate to the sanctuary fund via https://wesleymumc.org/giving/ and sign up to volunteer your time to support sanctuary by visiting https://wesleymumc.org/sanctuary/

The Artist: Kori Price

It was a privilege to listen to Maria and to learn from her. Her life has molded her into a woman with unwavering strength and grit which hasn’t caused her to lose her faith nor her hope. Her story represents that although life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should be guaranteed, those unalienable rights aren’t always guaranteed to everyone. While there is much shadow in her life that Maria could focus on, she chooses to focus on the light. This balance of light and shadow while she lives in sanctuary was something I knew I had to make sure was represented in her portrait.

I sometimes catch myself thinking of Charlottesville as the same small town from my childhood. This small, unknown part of Virginia described by its proximity to DC. A place that feels sleepy and unfettered by the issues of the outside world. I think what we sometimes don’t realize is how connected everyone is in Charlottesville and how that connects us to the world.This city brings all sorts of people together and challenges us to grow and change for the better.


Ivan Orr & Krista Townsend

Portrayed: Ivan Orr

Ivan Orr is a local musician, teacher of audio technology at Charlottesville High School, and active Charlottesville community member. He grew up in Charlottesville and has had a passion for music since childhood. He went to college at VCU and lived in Richmond for years afterwards, but has since brought this talent back to Charlottesville. He plays piano, saxophone, and sings vocals with many bands around town and has been involved with music education at places like The Music Resource Center, the Jefferson City School Center, and the Front Porch. He is also the music editor of Grown Folks Music.

When I first met Ivan, I was struck by his gentle demeanor and kindness. I soon learned that he is a teacher and it just seemed obvious, like the path he chose in life was a great fit for him.

His music is beautiful, soulful, and representative of the man himself. In the painting I did of Ivan, I tried to capture the concentration and centeredness that I witnessed as he plays his keyboard.

The Artist: Krista Townsend

Painting a portrait for me is about trying to capture an impression. I try to paint more than a likeness of someone and instead express something deeper than how they look on the surface. What I saw in Ivan was gentleness, calm, and generosity. I thought at first that I would paint him playing his keyboard and doing what he loves. Portraits of people doing what they are passionate about always make for more interesting portraits. And, well, I did end up doing that, but what struck me was the focused look of concentration on his face and that was what I wanted to capture. 

I am an oil painter focusing mostly on the local central Virginia landscape and the city of Charlottesville, but most recently, I’ve been intrigued by, its people. My training is in medical illustration so in some ways, painting the figure is a return to a place of comfort. But now, I’m excited by applying the looseness and freedom of handling paint for the landscape to portraiture. I paint almost exclusively with the palette knife which creates amazing texture and allows for vibrant gestures of color. It also has the advantage of not letting me get too caught up in the detail and stay focused on that original impression that I’m trying to express.


Veronica Espinoza & Eric Bolsmann

Portrayed: Veronica Espinoza

My name is Veronica. I am originally from Mexico and I have lived in Charlottesville since 2007. I have always known that I am passionate about helping others and I have discovered that love can be given to all people from any field to which you dedicate yourself (cooking, medicine,  laws, mental health, ect ……) As long as you do it with passion.That is what makes the difference.  I currently participate as a volunteer in some programs for the Latino community such as: The health initiative, Latinx Creciendo Juntos, a peer coach at the UVA hospital.  and my approach is directed to the mental health of my community in general, because I believe that every human being is unique, valuable, unrepeatable and has something to contribute to this world.

Artist: Eric Bolsmann

Eric is a German-born South African artist and writer who came to live permanently in Charlottesville, VA, in June 2019. AS a fine art painter in oils he loves to paint architectural constructions, cityscapes, landscapes and flor studies. He also accepts portraits on commission. Eric’s first paintings of Charlotteville were 12 paintings of historic and iconic buildings of the University of Virginia that were used to illustrate its 2019-20 academic calendar. Eric’s portrait requested by The Bridge is his second commission of this genre he has done since arriving in Charlottesville. He has also completed a Fralin Museum docent training course and is presently executing a series of Charlottesville scenes for a solo exhibition he intends to hold in 2022. Eric has held 13 solo exhibitions in South Africa and the USA. His work can be seen in the Pretoria Art Museum and the State Theatre of South Africa and in many corporate and private collections in South Africa and throughout the world.

As a writer, Eric is a published author of 30 books. One of these books, for children, was translated into 11 languages and six deal specifically with Fine Arts. He has also written numerous articles on history, art, and food and wine for newspapers and magazines published in Australia and in South Africa where he has lived for 50 years.


Dareen Aloudeh & Sarah Miller

Portrayed: Dareen Aloudeh

Dareen Aloudeh and her family began an impossible journey to Charlottesville beginning in 2012. She, her husband, and four children left Syria in search of a place that would provide good medical care for her youngest daughter who has Spina Bifida as well as a good education for all of the children. The family first went to Egypt and were unable to get the necessary care and education, so after two years they began to look for other places to move which brought them to the U.S. When Dareen and her family moved to Charlottesville five years ago, none spoke any English. Despite the cultural and language barriers, the family has become very integrated into the community. The children all attend city schools, and Dareen has been volunteering at her youngest children’s elementary school the last three years. Apart from volunteering, Dareen is currently getting a GED as well as working toward becoming a CNA. It is apparent how deeply she cares for her family as well as anyone she encounters. She has the ability to put a smile on anyone’s face.

The Artist: Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller is a painter who works primarily in gouache and watercolor. Since getting a BFA in drawing, painting, and printmaking, Sarah has been very interested in seeking more understanding in portraiture and color theory. In her everyday life, she tries to observe colors, shadows and patterns in order to learn more about how to integrate them into her work. In this particular project, Sarah wanted to create a piece that depicted the quiet strength of her subject, Dareen. She incorporated colors that are simultaneously bold and understated, a portrayal of Dareen’s great humility and colorful personality.


Bob Troy & Jae Johnson

Portrayed: Bob Troy

Bob is a theoretical physicist and science department chair at St. Anne’s Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia. He graduated from University of Scranton in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics. Bob went in to join STAB in 1994 and is currently still a teacher. Bob has also published 3 novels and is an outdoor enthusiast. He also monitors bacteria levels in the Rivanna during the summer.

The Artist: Jae Johnson

James “Jae” Johnson was born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia. He grew up and progressed through the city of Charlottesville school system and went on to study Studio Art at Virginia State University. His post education background has consisted of working at the University of Virginia until becoming a lead driver at Jaunt inc. based in Charlottesville. Artistically, Jae has had work presented at Welcome Gallery, McGuffey Art Center, and PVCC.


Andy Goodstein & Sam Pagni

Portrayed: Andy Goodstein

Meet Andy: a lover of the color green and fellow left-hander. He’s a self-described compulsive drawer, doodling his way across found materials like cardboard scavenged from dumpsters, wood scraps, and the backs of paper plates.  He grew up in Harrisonburg and moved to Charlottesville to pursue a degree in teaching English.  Life took him on a few detours, and he found himself in a different sort of classroom setting as a camp counselor, and more recently as an art teacher for the Field School and an after school enrichment coordinator at Meriwether Lewis Elementary.  When I asked Andy what he loves most about his work, he responded with humble sincerity, “It’s who I get to be when I work with the kids.”

When Andy’s not busy inspiring kids, or creating mesmerizing tangled drawings, he’s a runner.  One of his goals is to win first place in the Charlottesville 10 Miler Race. He never considered himself a team-oriented athlete or a “sporty kid,” but when he was introduced to running in middle school, something clicked, and he says it really helped him find his identity.

 

His free-form meditative doodles and digital pixelated pieces created on his ipad offer a glimpse into how much he values the space and downtime to create. This is where and when he finds his bliss: quiet time between jobs, or after he’s done supervising his young charges. He regularly posts his work for free on Craigslist and on Instagram, and he tries his best to avoid eye strain with his phone as he manipulates his doodles into patterns and mosaic-like works on splashy, tie-dye backgrounds.

Artist: Sam Pagni

Meet Sam: a lefty just like Andy, an artist, an art teacher, and also a lover of found objects and turning trash to treasure.  It was a pleasant surprise to meet Andy, someone who also loves art and inspiring kids as much as she does. 

In creating his portrait, she found it hard to settle on one way to portray him; after all, Andy has so many facets that make him so interesting. This grouping of three portraits is inspired by Andy’s fascination with doodles (those shown in the paintings are copies of his own), and his love of color. One thing that interests Sam about this project is its ability to instantly connect people through common visual language and shared stories.  

When she’s not making art with 5th and 6th graders, Sam spends her time with husband Jeremy and kids Harper and Griffin.  She makes art with friends and family in her magical basement studio, and occasionally shows her art here and there in Charlottesville.