Art and the City

Artist Profile: Desiree Sterbini

158

The people are introspective—lost in a simple moment. Desiree Sterbini takes them back to where they were. It’s the searching through time that people do, especially old folks. It’s a brief timeout. A break from the present and an escape from pondering the future

Dez likes to paint older people because she can listen to their stories. The stories carry them to times and places that made them happy, alive in a brightly colored past. Those memories are an essential part of who they are, and become an intricate part of the portrait.

Her mastery of oil pastel and pencil creates a glow, in both lights and darks, bright colors and shadows. The color complexities give you depth that allows the strength of character that typifies her work.

Dez Sterbini has always loved books and creating. Her father gave her a sketchpad when she was five, and she was hooked. She loves to use her hands and oil pastels are “hand intensive.” The interaction with the texture of the paper is “exciting.” She gets “hyper focused”…lost in her world…lost in art.

She received a BFA from the University of North Carolina and continues to study through workshops and studio classes. Her work is exhibited and collected throughout the DC area and nationally.

You can see her work this month at the Hill Center (see: At the Galleries). Her grandmother was a quilter and her oil pastel paintings are inspired by her grandmother’s wonderful patterns and color compositions—“stitched together from the family’s fabrics of life.”

Her parents grew up in Jacksonville Co., Florida and she would often go there to visit cousins. These were simple places, where people played checkers outdoors, shelled peas and found joy in simple things. She finds herself creating images of those people, living forever in a brightly colored timelessness.

“Shelling Peas” , Oil pastels and Colored pencils on Colourfix paper

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art.
When you see portraits of the important and self-important, the grandees of history, their eyes are not looking inward. They’re glaring at you, demanding your attention. They scream, “I’m a big shot, pay attention to my exalted place in life…and the things I wear and own.”

We all know that status is important at all areas of society and that there are different levels and styles of stature…and portrait painters had better pay attention.

Kings, queens, and potentates have always wanted majesty—the loftiness of power and wealth. Painters like Hans Holbein, Francisco Goya and Thomas Gainsborough gave it to them.

Politicians, on the other hand, go for the stately, whether they’re actually stately or not. They want the earthy tones of Rembrandt applied to the somber visages of humble nobility. Their gaze floats past you and settles on a great vision of the future. Gilbert Stuart and Rembrandt Peale got it rolling and many others have understood the genre, and the humbly heroic visage continues to this day.

“Patriotic Mother”, Oil pastels and Colored pencils on Colourfix paper

Entertainment titans want flair and the latest acclaimed styles with lots of color. It’s mostly photography these days. You get the impression they’re looking in a mirror, checking out their own beauty.

The portraits of ordinary people, by first-rate painters like Desiree Sterbini, (See Artist Profile) are often not “portraits,” so much as just paintings. The people have an inner gaze—an inner strength

Dez Sterbini’s pastel and pencil works are about much more than likeness. The core of any portrait is identity—that inner and outer amalgamation of spirit and bone, skin and energy…especially mental energy. Dez captures that identity through their still, quiet moments of looking inward while looking outward.

At the Galleries
Hill Center
921 Pennsylvania. Ave. SE
– Feb 25
The Hill Center is welcoming 2018 with three new exhibitions running concurrently: 

Stitched! Stories told in Clay, Fiber, Textiles, and Paints.” Five local artists give new looks to something very old: the quilt. Some approaches are woven into a visual narrative while others go beyond traditional patterns and colors to find a personal expression. It’s a terrific show.

Desiree Sterbini’s oil pastel paintings are inspired by her grandmother’s quilts—stitched together from the family’s “fabrics of life.” (See: Artist Profile)

Kasse Andrews-Weller draws upon her Southern rural roots to interpret great quilt patterns and color compositions with clay.

Paula Cleggett’s oil paintings of daily life [have] the comfort and often the patterns of the home-made quilt.

Lillian Fitzgerald’s layered encaustics capture the richness of memory and the beauty of living.

Sandy Hassan’s quilts sing with color harmonies and hypnotizing patterns.

“Cool Guy Alert! By Charlie Visconage”
Charlie Visconage comes at you with guns blazing, firing primary colors at your crazy undecipherable world. But look out—there are some very serious ideas under the comic cover. Laughs, too.

Capitol Hill Art League Juried Invitational
The “Invitational” includes thirty-one artists from the Capitol Hill Art League, a visual arts program featuring members from the DC area. You’ll discover a great range of topics, media and techniques. The only commonality is the dedication and skill of the artists.  hillcenterdc.org/galleries.

New Artists
Foundry Gallery
2118 8th St. NW
– Feb. 25
Opening reception:  Sat., Feb. 3, 5-8
You will like the four new artists who have joined the gallery. Their work can be, in turn, powerful, bruising, peaceful and intriguing. Vu Nguyen paints passionate abstracts that express outrage at ecological disasters in Vietnam, where he grew up. Lavely Miller-Kershman portrays people in mental or physical anguish. Teresa Jarzynski’s still lifes are painterly and lovely. Hester Ohbi’s abstracted landscapes come alive with color and movement. www.foundrygallery.org

Touchstone Gallery
901 New York Ave. NW
Feb. 2 – 25
Opening Reception: Fri., Feb. 2, 6 – 8:30
Closing Reception: Sun., Feb. 25, 2 – 4

With “In Transit,” Touchstone artists explore transitions and mobility in their photographs, paintings, collages, hand-pulled prints, sculptures, clay forms and drawings.

In “The Pursuit of Balance” in Gallery B, Landscape Painter Elaine Florimonte brings simplicity with emphasis on the horizon. The proportions of sky, water and ground are the true subjects of her solo show.

In Gallery C, “Landscapes: The Terrain Within, ”Rosemary Luckett

Rosemary Luckett presents archetypal guides in her own psychological terrain.