If you have any doubt as to an art group’s ability to meet on a steady, committed basis and sustain it over a long period of time, I have three words for you: The Painting Group. Established over 50 years ago – yes FIFTY- the Painting Group has met every week since it began in New York City in 1958. Its founders were some very accomplished men; renowned portrait painter Aaron Shikler , illustrator and legendary caricaturist for the New York Review of Books David Levine, who passed away in 2009, and one of my favorite people, realist painter Daniel Schwartz. Over the decades, as the American art scene veered further and further away from classical figurative art, the Painting Group doggedly persevered, against the prevailing trend of New York artists toward Abstract Expressionism and other modern art scene fads, to keep realism and the the figure subject alive. We models are grateful for that.
The Painting Group has an itinerant history, traveling from their original location in Brooklyn, to 54th Street in midtown, to the Upper West Side, down to Greene Street in SoHo, and now in their newest space in Chelsea off Seventh Avenue.
I have had the pleasure of posing for the Painting Group many, many times. In fact, I am one of their regular models, and am currently posing for the first half of the summer. It’s a wonderfully sociable group of artists, and the model is welcomed with a chorus of friendly hellos and cheerful greetings upon entering the studio.
Irene Vitale is a longtime member of the Painting Group. She has worked from my modeling both there and at at another private art group. She’s a lovely person of great warmth, humor and kindness. At last Wednesday’s session I admired the intermediate stage of her painting. I am posing for the group on a couch with a boring white wall behind me. So the artists are letting their imaginations run wild with the background, making it different colors and even patterns. Irene made the interesting choice of using green. I mentioned to her that it would look nice on the blog. But when I suggested that we should wait until the painting is finished, Irene happily said, “You can post it as a work-in-progress!”. Indeed, I can. Why not? As long as Irene at some point gives me a mouth I’ll be happy