Bisignano Art Gallery’s Latest Exhibit is “Here’s Looking at You”

Feb 11, 2021 | University Relations staff

DUBUQUE, Iowa – The walls of Bisignano Art Gallery stare at patrons through portraits in the current exhibit, “Here’s Looking at You,” on the University of Dubuque campus.

Sixteen portraits by artists Johanna Hoogendyk and David Petersen are on display through Friday, Feb. 26, in the art gallery, Heritage Center, 2255 Bennett Street. “Here’s Looking at You” is free to the public.

“Before the invention of photography, a painted, sculpted, or drawn portrait was the only way to record the appearance of someone. But no less an institution as Tate Britain in London reminds us that portraits have always been more than just a record. They have been used to show the power, importance, virtue, beauty, wealth, taste, learning, or other qualities of the sitter,” said Alan Garfield, director of the art gallery. “Portraits have almost always been flattering, and painters who refused to flatter, I’m thinking of 18th century William Hogarth, found their work rejected. A notable exception was Francisco Goya who could be bluntly truthful about the Spanish King and Queen and yet still find favor.”

Although commissioned portraits are rare in the modern world, portraits in general still flourish.

“Instead, artists paint their friends and lovers in whatever way they please. In the 21st century, we see video and digital portraits, selfies come to mind, as a popular alternative to the traditional drawing or painting. So portrait painting continues to flourish,” Garfield said. “Are these portraits of interest to you? If the picture is of your mom or sister or best friend, you’d answer in the affirmative.

“But what about these portraits? Since you don’t know the person, then the artist has to create enough humanity in his charcoal study or in her oils on canvas. These people are larger than life but do they attract life? And how do we see these images? Contrast of color, soft lines, hard contour lines, broad spaces – these are all compositional elements. When all the art marks come together, we get a sense of personality with in the person.”

Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the academic year. No more than 10 patrons are allowed in the gallery at one time due to the pandemic. Face coverings are required.

New this year, each exhibit is also displayed virtually with photos, artists’ statements, and video tours. Patrons can visit “Here’s Looking at You” virtually at