Portraiture showcase attracts community, alters perspective

Gallery promotes Bay Area artist Barbara Hazard, fractal portraits

Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

By Mayra Garcia, Staff Illustrator

Peculiar paintings and a variety of art pieces were displayed at the Eddie Rhodes Gallery on Thursday.

Stepping in, one would notice the unique art of Barbara Hazard, a San Francisco Bay Area artist.

From 4:30-6:30 p.m. visitors were able to gaze upon the one-woman art show, “The Artist at Work: Facets of Portraiture.”

Wrapped in quilting material, an odd looking cube caught the interest of many at the exhibit, while seemingly puzzling a few.

Hazard said the idea for her piece came from her experience in another art show — where she remembered stepping into a larger cube version of her piece.

The reflection through the cube captures the eye’s attention because of the different mirrored images of oneself, she said.

Portraits of her canvas paintings have mirror-like attributes. She said she has created several of her portrait pieces by looking through the quilted mirrored cube piece.

Diablo Valley College student Isidro Maldonado, a psychology major, said Hazard’s exhibit made him think of different “dimensions.” The various “dimensions” captured a presentation of Hazard’s natural self, he said, and pointed at one of her other portraits.

Dana Davis, an adjunct professor in the fine and media arts department, said a portrayal of Picasso’s style is displayed in her pieces. He said the rearmament of the face structure is unique in Hazard’s style.

Although the artist gave the viewers much to talk about at the event, she said in the past she had not been confident in her art. “I had always been shy about drawing people,” she said. Eventually she got past her insecurity when she began teaching a drawing class.

From the ceiling hung cardboard cutout drawings of fish and angels. Hazard said the angel drawings are pieces from years ago and she has a love for, and is fascinated by, fish.

Her fascinations have been a major contributor to her creations. “I paint what I love — my friends, my cat, flowers, California landscapes, St. Petersburg,” she said.

Though Hazard’s art studio is located in Berkeley, she said she has also spent many spring seasons visiting Russia where she paints portraits of new friendships made. “I find people fascinating,” she said.

A favorite painting she pointed out is “Three Sisters,” a painting with three women and a man off to the side. Hazard questioned her painting. She questioned who the people are, what the guy on the side is doing, and questioned where the eye should be focused.

She wanted viewers to question her art the way she does.

Finding enjoyment in replicating what she sees she compares her artistic approach to be like that of a photographer. Lines, curves and dimensions are what catch her attention, she said.

Genn Toffey, an oil acrylics painter who recently moved to the Bay Area from Korea, said she appreciates Hazard’s work and connects with it because she can see the diffusion of culture.

“It’s the sense of dealing with two worlds that I connect with,” she said. Toffey said she had never seen Hazard’s work before, and that she knows of Hazard through one of her poetry books.

Jim Quay, retired head of California Council for Humanities, is part of Berkeley’s senior poetry group, where he met Hazard.

His wife, Caren Quay, retired communications manager at Kaiser Permanente, said the reception was her first time seeing Hazard’s work.

She said she finds her work fascinating to look at, and that she displayed lovely pieces of art.

Friends and fans of her art surrounded her during the reception and by the end of the night she held Alcatraz flowers, given to her by friends and supporters, throughout the night.