February 23, 2024—The public is invited to join artists Ellen Holtzblatt and Mary Porterfield for a conversation with Miller Art Museum Curator Helen del Guidice at 4pm Friday, March 1. An audience Q&A will follow the conversation as will a free public reception from 5:30 – 7pm. Light refreshments will be provided with music provided by Craig Schultz and Mike Miller.

The Studio Door VestigesCurrently on view at the Miller Art Museum, the artist’s two-person exhibit, Vestiges of the Tide, explores each artist’s unique approach to the sensitive topic of senescence through exquisitely rendered drawings and paintings. Porterfield works in the medical field as an occupational therapist and is also a talented portraitist committed to rendering her elderly, infirm subjects with images that address recurring struggles in healthcare. In unison, Ellen Holtzblatt presents works from her Song of Songs series, a collection of portraits of her elderly mother that convey that love, desire, and the need for human contact are universal. The exhibition is emotionally charged and offers viewers a powerful, poetic experience of a reality that many in Door County face.

Mary Porterfield has exhibited both nationally and internationally at venues including the Lim Lip Museum in South Korea, the Phoenix Art Museum, the San Diego Art Institute, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Kohler Arts Center, the Dubuque Art Museum, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, the Rockford Art Museum, the Figge Art Museum, and the Weatherspoon Museum. Solo shows have included the Hofheimer Gallery (Chicago, IL), the Packer-Schopf Gallery (Chicago, IL), Indiana University-NW (Gary, IN), the University of Illinois (Urbana, IL) and the West Valley Art Museum (Surprise, IL). Honors include three Illinois Artist Council Grants, a City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Grant (DCASE), a Puffin Foundation Grant, and three Chicago Community Arts Assistance Program Grants. Porterfield teaches at Northeastern Illinois University and received an MFA from Arizona State University.

Ellen Holtzblatt approaches the subject of senescence from another perspective––with a collection of portraits of her 100-year-old mother. The works vary from large-scale to very small and intimate and are steeped in emotionality. Holtzblatt sees society living according to linear time marked by birth, childhood, and aging, but the artist contemplates life in a world without time. The paintings are infused with a sense of this timeless world that her elderly subject lives within.

“In my art, I seek connections between the physical and spiritual. Through the process of painting and drawing my mother, I explore the power and vulnerability of mind, soul, and the passage of time,” Holtzblatt says.

Ellen Holtzblatt exhibits her work internationally and nationally at venues that have included the Jerusalem Biennale, the Museum of Biblical Art, Spertus Institute, the Rockford Art Museum, Chicago Artist’s Coalition, the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, Inselgalerie in Berlin, Yeshiva University Museum, and the Center for Book Arts. Recent one-person exhibits include Josef Glimer Gallery, Fermilab Gallery, and the Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery. Holtzblatt has been awarded artist residencies in the U.S. and Iceland and was a 2019/2020 artist resident with the Chicago Artists Coalition, where she exhibited in two-person and group exhibitions. Holtzblatt’s work is held in public and private collections, and she has received grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the City of Chicago. Holtzblatt earned degrees in visual art and art therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Vestiges of the Tide will be on view through April 6, 2024.

The exhibitions are presented with support from Miller Art Museum sustaining members with additional grant and in-kind support from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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