“Deconstructing/Reconstructing Strangely Familiar Faces—Cubist Portraits: The Pieces of Our Puzzle” is an exhibit of portraits created by artist and long-time Bronx resident Dennis Shelton. His series of collages can be seen at the Riverdale Y “Gallery 18” until August 5.
Shelton’s collages are all portraits made up of at least three other portraits, recycled from discarded magazines and books and each combined into one new, oddly recognizable whole. Some of the faces will look distinctly familiar. You may think you are seeing Shimon Peres or Eleanor Roosevelt, but upon a closer look at the portrait, you will think you are seeing someone else. Shelton points out, “The faces look familiar because we all are more similar than different. It is my intent to open the eyes of viewers, especially as we age, to our complexity as beings made up of many individuals who have influenced us, who reside within, and who make of us a whole.”
The series is composed of five sets, two of women and three of men, each set with a different background and woven from different sources to create a new entirety. With distinctive color palates and textures, each portrait will trigger memories and connections within viewers, as individuals reflect on their own lives. Shelton encourages viewers to quietly ponder their own connections in this increasingly alienated world.
Shelton has had a solo art show at Gallery 18 three years running and solo exhibits at the Riverdale Senior Services Center, winning first and second place in shows at its Vintage Art Show. He has exhibited in group shows at the Riverdale-Yonkers Ethical Culture Center and at Blue Door Art Center and Riverfront Gallery in Yonkers. He is now serving in his second year as president of the Riverdale Art Association. Shelton completed both undergraduate and graduate studies in art, art education and printmaking at Lehman College and was an art teacher at John F. Kennedy High School for more than 35 years. Retired from teaching in 2016, Shelton has continued to produce artwork on a full-time basis and has inspired and motivated countless future arts. He credits Romare Bearden, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse and Jacob Lawrence for his inspiration.
By Yvette Finkelstein