Captured on Canvas! (You Might Be One of Them)

JMC at RW Opening 2007

Artist Gail Norfleet spent two years hanging out at art galleries and museum show openings. She snapped photos of interesting people looking at art -- or not looking at it -- as the case may be. She translated those images into monotype prints, and a collection of 33 of those prints can be seen at Valley House tonight when Norfleet's own show opens with a reception at 6 p.m. 

She expects people will recognize people they know in her art, and maybe even see themselves. Norfleet talked to me by phone on Wednesday about the idea behind her show:

 "Dallas has an active gallery scene, and I’ve been going to openings since the 1970s. You always see the same people, and believe it or not, I've been seeing the same people for all these years. Some of them, I don’t know who they are. Some I do know. I took pictures of people I thought were interesting in relationship to the art."

Butterfly Girl #1 2008

"I love her," says Norfleet. "She was this petite young woman wearing these dainty wings. There was a day of the dead party at the
MAC, so people were in costume. She was wandering around in the space looking at these very oversized insects, in these big red paintings. I loved the relationship between the person wearing the wings and thse grotesque insects in the painintgs. I was so glad I had my camera." 

Eye to Eye 2008

I wonder who this masked woman is?

Marilyn 2008

"This is probably my favorite one," says Norfleet. "It's of a young woman in white dress looking at a skeleton, also at the Mac show. She is dressed like Marilyn Monroe, and she looked like Marilyn Monroe to me. I like the subtle, implied connection between Marilyn Monroe and death. We know she had a tragic life, a  beautiful woman who died young, and here is this beautiful young woman contemplating a skeleton. When you are young, you don’t get that you are immortal. Someone else, maybe older, looking at this painting might not project the same idea."

Look Here 2007

I don't have to tell you that people who go to art openings are often there to see-and-be-seen. I love this one, Look Here, because it shows a couple who are oblivious to the outrageous sculpture behind them. 

Cellphone Girl and Plaster Figure 2009

Norfleet says she saw this woman on her cellphone at the Nasher Sculpture Center in front of this George Segal paster sculpture. Says Norfleet: "The idea that each person who looks at art sees it differently and responds differently, was important to me. Also, the George Segal ghost figure is walking in a trance down the street, and this young woman is absorbed on her cellphone and doesn't even see it. I liked the correlation."

The Urban Couple 2009

Recognize the urban couple?

Safari 2009
I wonder if the big hair is Jo Guerin....

Betty and Plaster Figure 2009

I recognized 90-something art collector Betty Blake right away.
Critic and Plaster Figure 2009

This has got to be Charles Dee Mitchell, don't you think?

Norfleet wouldn't confirm any of my guesses about who some of these people were. "I'm more interested in these people as universal themes, and so I don't want to identify them," she says. Spoken like an artist. 

So what does Norfleet think about these art groupies who attend gallery openings? "They're wonderful, people who go around looking at art work. It’s our applause."