Blog / 2022 / Winifriend the Inspirer

December 12, 2022

A new body of work doesn’t usually have just one starting place. It’s not like I get an idea and then—poof!—paintings happen. There tends to be more to it, and often that “more” is a tortuous process of weighing out what exactly I’m trying to communicate and the best way to do it.

But, with my most recent body of work, the process went a little differently. Friend Request is a series of portraits of the people and pets of Lambertville, New Jersey, who’ve made me feel most welcome since I moved here, so, as the title indicates, the portraits are a commentary on social media. For two years now, I’ve successfully managed to keep on being a full-time artist (as well as a full-fledged human) without Instagram or Facebook, and it seemed like making art about that might be a good idea.

At the beginning though, Friend Request was about just one person. This one!

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Winifred Weiss is a sculptor who works down the street from where I live, and her studio windows have, for years, been filled with her delightfully strange ceramic figures. Every time I visited Lambertville, before I even moved here at the beginning of 2022, I wondered about the person who made these little people. Once I’d settled here, it was one of my first orders of business to introduce myself to her.

acrylic painting of ceramic artist Winifred Weiss, painted by Lambertville artist Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
acrylic on paper
7 x 5 inches

From there, it wasn’t long before I was plotting how I might get Winifred to let me paint her. I thought it might be sort of a lot to meet a person and, seemingly moments later, be asking to do her portrait. It occurred to me that painting other Lambertville people as well would be a good cover. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my so-called “cover” was actually sounding like a real series, with a highly relevant theme. I was excited to paint all the lovely people who were making me feel at home even though I’d only just arrived.

Lambertville art by Gwenn Seemel
photo by Gwenn Seemel

I’m forever grateful to Winifred for sparking a whole new body of work and also for lending me the studio-window-that-started-it-all for the show.

ceramacist at work
photo by Gwenn Seemel

In this photo, you can see Winifred through the side window, working in the half-dark because the Friend Request display has basically eclipsed the light from the front window. Winifriendship is a one-of-a-kind gift!

You can catch Friend Request in person for one more day.

Winifred Weiss’ studio window
17 Church Street
(at the intersection with George)
Lambertville, NJ 08530

Open: through the end of today
Hours: whenever (you can look in from the street)

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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