Encounters: Portraits and Identity is on view from Friday, March 18th to Saturday April 30th at Embark Gallery at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture. This juried exhibition prompted artists to submit artwork that captures an aspect of identity--whether personal, familial, cultural, political or otherwise. In keeping with the guidelines of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, the artists were free to select the subject of the artwork, as long as the work evolved from the artist’s direct contact with that person.

Our esteemed jurors, Director Kim Sajet and Director of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture Dorothy Moss (NPG) invited artists to interpret the concept of portraiture broadly, in keeping with one of the Portrait Gallery’s aims to represent the diversity of contemporary portraiture in America.

As one might expect from emerging Bay Area artists, many risks were taken. The resulting exhibition is both an intimate survey of human interaction and a conceptually rigorous offering of local styles. Media ranges from the more traditional photography and painting, to large-scale ceramic work, embroidery, innovative video projection and live performance. Mental illness is represented in the work of photographer Dan Fenstermacher, while Leila Weefur playfully and poignantly speaks to tensions of racial identity and the experience of multi-ethnic children. Hui Meng Wang’s dinner table performance addresses the interaction of cultures in a globalized world, while artists Victoria Maidhof and Willow Griffiths delve into the familiar, showcasing the important encounters that occur within our own homes and communities.

Encounters features eleven artists from six of the eight different local Bay Area institutions represented by Embark Gallery. We are thrilled to facilitate their inclusion in a nationwide dialogue regarding portraiture led by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.  This conversation will continue on April 3rd, 2016 in a panel discussion with Kim Sajet and 3 finalists of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, hosted by Embark Gallery.


Jamee Crusan | CCA

Dan Fenstermacher | SJSU

Ninh Filip | SJSU

Simona Fitcal | Stanford

Willow Griffiths | SFAI

Juan Pablo Pacheco | SFAI

Lauren Ross | CCA

Hui Meng Wang | SFAI

Leila Weefer | Mills

Sarah Woodard | SFSU