“Nobody understands an artist like another artist,” says local portrait artist Frank Walker.
And so Walker, who has drawn all his life—first imitating the figures in Sgt. Rock comic books and later working in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers graphics department, earning a BFA in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University and working for a number of years as a medical illustrator at the University of Virginia Hospital—loves to talk art with other artists.
“People relate to artists as being quirky or crazy, but we’re not,” says Walker. “We just think in other dimensions.”
Walker had talked art with his late sculptor brother, so when Walker’s wife introduced him to her nephew, self-taught portrait artist Jae Jae Johnson, he found a new confidant in art.
For the last decade or so, Walker and Johnson have shared the ideas and techniques that shape their distinct portraiture styles. Walker works mostly with pencils and graphite, whereas Johnson uses copic markers to create grayscale-with-pops-of-color portraits that viewers often mistake for watercolor paintings.
“Visage,” on view at New City Arts Welcome Gallery this month, is their first joint show, and Johnson’s first public show.
While their styles are different, both are drawn to portraiture for similar reasons. Johnson says that for him it requires a certain sense of caring, love and attention for the subject, to the point where it’s often difficult to part with his drawings.
According to Walker, “People’s faces, and their eyes, especially, tell a story. I’ve always believed that they eyes are the window to the soul. So when I look at people, and I look in their eyes, I [see] their character.”—Erin O’Hare
First Fridays: April 6
FF Angelo Jewelry 220 E. Main St. “Striation Series: Brazilian Tides & North Shore Waters,” featuring intimate drawings and mosaic mirrors by Eileen Butler. 5:30-7:30pm.
Annie Gould Gallery 121B S. Main St., Gordonsville. An exhibition of works by Morganne Ashlie, Jennie Carr, Susan Graeber, Louise Greer and Valerie Sargent. Through April 8.
Art on the Trax 5784 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet. “The Delight is in the Surprise,” featuring paintings of White Hall landscapes and animals by Christen Yates. Opens April 14.
FF The Bridge PAI 2019 Monticello Rd. “Who Is Your RGB Self?,” an exhibition by Golara Haghtalab that uses paintings, poems, sculpture and interactive installations to create a fresh perspective on visual self-recognition. 5:30-9:30pm.
Buck Mountain Episcopal Church 4133 Earlysville Rd., Earlysville. “Welcome Spring!,” a multimedia group show of work by Buck Mountain Episcopal Church artists. Opens April 11.
Charlottesville Senior Center 491 Hillsdale Dr. “Local Scenes,” a multimedia group show featuring the work of the BozART Fine Art Collective.
The Charlottesville Women’s Initiative 1101 E. High St. “Halcyon Explored,” featuring works from the Fiber and Stitch Collective artists. Opens April 8.
FF Chroma Projects 103 W. Water St. “Submerged,” a visual and auditory sub-aquatic collaboration between photo- grapher Alexandria Searls and sound designer Morgan McLeod. 5-7pm.
FF CitySpace Art Gallery 100 Fifth St. NE. “Our Town, Our Eyes: McGuffey Artists Consider Charlottesville,” featuring work about Charlottesville from the perspective of 10 McGuffey Art Center member artists. 5:30-7:30pm.
Crozet Artisan Depot 5791 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet. “A Mighty Little Town,” featuring Oana Moore’s photographs of Crozet and the Western Albemarle area. Opens April 14.
FF C’ville Arts Cooperative Gallery 118 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. “Finding Time,” an exhibition of work by tinkering guru and clockmaker Allan Young. 6-8pm.
FF C’ville Coffee 1301 Harris St. An exhibition of oil paintings by Caroline Planting. 4:30-6pm.
Darden Art Gallery Alumni Lounge UVA Darden School of Business Camp Library, 100 Darden Blvd. “Lexicon of Landscapes,” featuring work from Michelle Gagliano’s VMFA fellowship exhibition.
FF Dovetail Design + Cabinetry 309 E. Water St. An exhibition of gold and black abstract paintings by Juan Manuel Granados. 5-7pm.
The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA 155 Rugby Rd. “Feminine Likeness: Portraits of Women by American Artists, 1809-1950,” featuring works from The Fralin Museum of Art collection; “A Painter’s Hand: The Monotypes of Adolph Gottlieb,” an exhibit of works from one of the original Abstract Expressionists; “From the Grounds Up: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture and Design”; “Oriforme” by Jean Arp.
FF Jefferson School African American Heritage Center 233 Fourth St. NW. An exhibition of posters on public art and community submitted by 80 artists from 10 countries for the 2018 Bushman Dreyfus Architects Prize. 5-7pm.
FF Kardinal Hall 722 Preston Ave. “Creatures and Creation: A Passage Around Saint Soleil,” an exhibition of oil and acrylic works on canvas by Eriveau Prospere, Mackenly Darius, Marshal Edward and Richard Nesly. 6-9pm.
FF Les Yeux du Monde 841 Wolf Trap Rd. “Expressions in Black and White,” featuring work by Suzanne Tanner Chitwood, David Hawkins, Ivy Naté and Nick Watson. 1-5pm.
Live Arts 123 E. Water St. “Conversations in Wood & Paint,” featuring new work from sculptor Alan Box Levine and painter Jennifer Esser. Opens April 14.
FF McGuffey Art Center 201 Second St. NW. “Playing with Light,” paintings by Nan Rothwell and Junko Ono Rothwell in the Sarah B. Smith Gallery; “Even Odds and Ends,” featuring wall reliefs constructed from clay by Scott Supraner, in the Lower Hall South Gallery; “Gathering,” a selection of old and new paintings by Cynthia Burke, in the Lower Hall North Gallery; “Free Pile,” works of art made from the materials in McGuffey’s free pile that once had other lives and uses, in the Upper Hall North and South Galleries. 5:30-7:30pm.
FF Milli Coffee Roasters 400 Preston Ave. #150. An exhibition of mixed-media works by Peter Sacco. 6-8pm.
FF Moon Maiden’s Delights 112 W. Main St. “Moths: From the Archives” by Maryanna Williams, featuring slightly fantastical renderings of moths. 5-7pm.
FF Music Resource Center 105 Ridge St. “New Works,” a collection of paintings by Kevin Miller. 5-7pm.
New Dominion Bookshop 404 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. “The Art of Ken Nagakui,” featuring oil paintings and wood-fired stoneware by Ken Nagakui. 5-7:30pm.
Northside Library 705 Rio Rd. W. “Perspectives in Black and White,” featuring six photographic images by Seth Silverstein.
Piedmont Virginia Community College V. Earl Dickinson Building 501 College Dr. An exhibition of graphic design, ceramics, sculpture, painting and more by PVCC students. Opens April 20.
FF Second Street Gallery 115 Second St. SE. In the main gallery, “Monument,” an exhibition of landscape/cityscape paint collages by Erik Benson; in the Dové Gallery, “Mom Brain,” featuring graphite paintings by Melissa Cooke Benson. 5:30-7:30pm.
Shenandoah Valley Art Center 122 S. Wayne Ave., Waynesboro. An exhibition of work by landscape artist Kevin H. Adams. Opens April 7.
FF Spring Street Boutique 107 W. Main St. “Colors and Shapes,” featuring works in acrylic by Chris Lombard. 6-8pm.
FF Studio IX 969 Second St. SE. “How Did I Get Here?,” Ada Trillo’s photographic portrait series documenting the exploitation of women in the prostitution industry. 5-7pm.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian-Universalist 717 Rugby Rd. “Mechanics of the Mind,” featuring paintings by Blake Hurt.
FF VMDO Architects 200 E. Market St. “Coexist: A Prayer Flag Project,” an interactive exhibition by Jum Jirapan. 5:30-7:30pm.
FF WriterHouse 508 Dale Ave. An exhibition of watercolor paintings by Karyn Gunther Smith. 5-7pm.
FF Welcome Gallery 114 Third St. NE. “Visage,” featuring drawings and paintings by Frank Walker and Jae Jae Johnson. 5-7:30pm.
FF First Fridays is a monthly art event featuring exhibit openings at many downtown art galleries and additional exhibition venues. Several spaces offer receptions.