Leslie Adams honored in D.C. for charcoal drawingWritten by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
On March 22, Leslie Adams attended a private event in Washington, D.C., where she was celebrated as being one of 48 artists included in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.
Her work will be on display at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery for the next 11 months.
“For a portrait artist, it doesn’t get any better than the National Portrait Gallery,” Adams said. “Don’t let the term ‘gallery’ mislead you, it’s a beautiful, beautiful museum.”
The show, which opened March 23 and will run until Feb. 23, 2014, is located next to the Hall of Presidents.
“The exposure is going to be incredible,” Adams said. “When [people] walk out of the Hall of Presidents, it just falls into our gallery where our show is.”
This is the second time Adams has been chosen for the competition, last time making it to the top 100, this year the top 48. Adams is the second person from Toledo recognized; David Eichenberg was a finalist in 2009.
“Probably close to 10,000 entries and two people from Toledo have been part of the show,” Adams said. “That’s a pretty big deal.”
Adams entered a charcoal-drawn self-portrait into the contest. The same portrait, featuring her sitting in front of MRI images of her brain, was featured in the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition. Since then, she has had a solo exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art.
“It was that drawing that was the reason I had a solo show at the museum,” Adams said.
Adams heard about the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition while she was a member of the Portrait Society of America. The triennial juried exhibition invites works in traditional media, including oil paintings, drawings and photographs, according to a news release.
Of the more than 3,000 entries, 48 were chosen to appear in the gallery. Seven of those 48 were selected for a cash prize. First place earned $25,000 and “a commission to create a portrait of a living individual for the museum’s permanent collection.”
The competition was started after Virginia Outwin Boochever left $2 million to the gallery when she died.
“The vision of Virginia Outwin Boochever was to increase awareness about portraiture as a vibrant art form,” said Wendy Wick Reaves, interim director of the museum, in a news release.
Adams was motivated by Boochever’s vision.
“I think so many people walk in museums, and with realistic portraiture … they think this is done from somebody a long time ago,” Adams said. “I think what she means is that there are still living, breathing people that paint portraits. It’s not a lost art; it’s not a dying art. It’s still a profession and it’s just an amazing profession to be in.”
In Toledo, Adams spends her time painting political figures. Because of this, she took advantage of her time in Washington, D.C.
“It’s important to me to go to the capital to see the artwork there,” Adams said.
Adams has worked in Downtown Toledo for close to 20 years after growing up in the South End, she said. She worked out of another, smaller studio Downtown before moving to her current location on Huron Street four years ago.
Many of her clients are state senators, governors and judges.
Each portrait requires an average of 400 hours of work by Adams and her assistants. Adams employs a traditional technique of portrait painting, which consists of a lengthy process of drawing and painting multiple layers of flesh tones and light. Much of this process is spent really getting to know the subject, physically and on a personal level, Adams said.
Adams is also working on portraits of Paul Gillmor for the Ohio Senate and Justice Francis Sweeney and Judge Robert Morton Duncan for the Supreme Court of Ohio.
Tags: David Eichenberg, Huron Street, Judge Robert Morton Duncan, Justice Francis Sweeney, Leslie Adams, Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, Paul Gillmor, Portrait Society of America, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Toledo Museum of Art, Virginia Outwin Boochever