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Artist Kristen Throop exhibits four-year project at A Street

Looking for meaning

What: “Recognition: Rethinking Art and Life,” an exhibit by Kristen Throop

When: On display 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Aug. 8 - 29. Reception 5 - 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6 as part of the South of A Street arts district’s First Friday event, followed by an official opening reception 5 - 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7.

The exhibit also is open for tours by appointment. Docents will be present to control the number of visitors moving through the relatively small space. There also will be artist talks at 1 p.m. each Sunday in August.

Where: Backstreet Gallery on Art Alley in Santa Rosa’s South of A Street arts district. Enter on South A Street between Sebastopol and Sonoma avenues. Masks are required inside the building.

Admission: Free

Information: kristenthroop.com

An artist is always expected to bring something new to the easel, and often that means doing more homework than the casual viewer will ever know about. But when Kristen Throop commits to a project, she really means it.

That should be evident to any visitor when the Santa Rosa artist opens her new exhibit, “Recognition: Rethinking Art and Life,” Saturday, Aug. 7, at Backstreet Gallery on Art Alley in Santa Rosa’s South of A Street arts district.

“For the past four years, I have been working on a single project,” Throop said. “At the center of the project is Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ famous 1853 portrait of the Princesse de Broglie, which hangs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.”

Throop remembered the painting from a postcard reproduction that once hung on the wall of her childhood bedroom. She went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York to see the original in 2018.

After that, she spent two and a half months in her Santa Rosa studio creating her own meticulously detailed pencil drawing of the famed portrait.

That drawing is the centerpiece of her new exhibit, but it’s contextualized by another 35 works that relate to different aspects of Ingres’ masterpiece, Throop said.

For Throop, the Princesse de Broglie portrait is a reminder of what paintings looked like before the advent of modern art. She sees value in earlier artists’ painstaking attention to detail.

“We don’t see paintings like that out here, and I wanted to bring it back and show it to people in my own way,” she said. “It’s a very slow process, drawing the way people did in 1853.”

For her exhibit, Throop reinterprets Ingres’ portrait in the style of other artists, including Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama and Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, famed for his painting “The Scream.” Throop hopes to show how modern art has changed our shared vision of the world.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that this long, straight line that is the story of modernism began as a reaction against (Jean-Auguste-Dominique) Ingres,” she wrote in her artist’s statement for the exhibit.

“Modernism is narrower,” she explained in an interview. “I wanted to go back before the modern era. There are things worth doing as artists that we aren’t doing now.”

The exhibit also includes breakout illustrations and text posted on the walls about the small details visible in Ingres’ portrait, including stork feathers in the princess’s costume and lace bearing a tiny palm tree design.

For Throop, unusual projects are her norm. Last year, she created colorful illustrated signs to help distinguish between the identical 64-square-foot units in a county-sanctioned homeless camp at a parking lot on the Los Guilicos Juvenile Justice Center campus, allowing residents to choose which signs they wanted on the outside of their doors.

“I’m a little unusual in the art world,” Throop said. “This new exhibit is kind of a dense show in terms of all the thoughts I put into it.”

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.

Looking for meaning

What: “Recognition: Rethinking Art and Life,” an exhibit by Kristen Throop

When: On display 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Aug. 8 - 29. Reception 5 - 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6 as part of the South of A Street arts district’s First Friday event, followed by an official opening reception 5 - 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7.

The exhibit also is open for tours by appointment. Docents will be present to control the number of visitors moving through the relatively small space. There also will be artist talks at 1 p.m. each Sunday in August.

Where: Backstreet Gallery on Art Alley in Santa Rosa’s South of A Street arts district. Enter on South A Street between Sebastopol and Sonoma avenues. Masks are required inside the building.

Admission: Free

Information: kristenthroop.com

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.

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