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Portrait for the cure

Puget Sound Portrait Guild and Wing Point Golf and Country Club team up on June 4 for a portrait auction to benefit breast cancer research.

Strokes of a brush are helping to paint a brighter future in the battle against breast cancer.

On Friday, islanders get the chance to bid for a portrait sitting by one of six professional artists from the Puget Sound Portrait Guild.

The event is organized by Wing Point Golf and Country Club to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer. The Komen Foundation grants money for breast cancer research and to local groups providing services and promoting awareness to underserved women.

“(Sitting for a portrait) is such a wonderful and unique experience, I hope it attracts Wing Point members and the public to our cause,” said Deb Maier, co-chair of the Wing Point Rally for the Cure benefit.

The idea to auction off portraits came when amateur portraitist and secretary of the guild, Francis Gace, brought in a portrait he had done and someone at the country club suggested auctioning it off for the Rally for the Cure.

“I realized there are much better artists than me,” Gace said. “If people bid on this, it needs to be top-drawer.”

From a pool of 14 artists, six were selected by third-party juror, Juliette Aristides of the Seattle Academy of Fine Arts. Minimum bids at the silent auction begins at $250-$750 for a 16-b-20-inch portrait. Gace estimates that at full price the cost of the donated portraits would be $10,500.

Each artist brings something different to the auction.

Pam Vesterby’s participation is personal, having lost her mother to cancer. Longtime illustrator Vesterby started watercolor portraits recently.

“I had no idea it would capture me as it has. It’s a passion,” Vesterby said. “You want to show the best of that person to everyone who looks (at the portrait).”

Islander Judith Barnett emphasizes the art in her portraits rather than producing a “retouched photograph.” Barnett was rallied to the cause because of relatives she has lost to breast cancer.

In demand for her highly realistic portraits of children, fellow islander Lara Cannon does her portraits from photographs, since children don’t have the patience to sit still.

Cannon, who is also chair of the Puget Sound Portrait Guild, takes as many photos as she needs to get a sense of the child – sometimes as many as 80-90. “I don’t quit until (the portrait) has a ‘living presence,’” she said.

“Children have beautiful skin and are happy. I try to get that into the portraits.”

Wanda Kemper’s 40-year art career has ranged from designing stained glass windows and sculptures to oil paintings over photos for photographers. She has been painting freehand portraits for the last 10 years.

“There’s an element of 3D you get from life that you can’t get from a photograph – the edges, the subtleties,” she said.

For her portraits, Kemper will visit the client several times to see a person’s surroundings and know her subject. “It’s so important to carry with me who they are and try to reach the essence of the person, to penetrate to the soul, to portray for them and future generations what about a person is unique.”

Rounding out the six juried artists are oil portraitist Cathleen Rhenfeld and pastel artist Jane Wallis.

In a category of her own, Pam Fermanis returned to painting after surviving colon and breast cancer three times. She specializes in oil paintings of pets.

“Whenever I can, I like to use my art to donate to causes,” Fermanis said. “This is how I support the fight and search for the cure.”

“Francis and I hope it’s the first of an annual event,” Maier said, “and can use this as an example of a win-win to establish other partnerships toward a common cause.”

* * * * *

Puget Sound Portrait Guild and Wing Point Golf and Country Club team up on June 4 for a portrait auction to benefit the Rally for the Cure.

Portraits by each artist are on display in the foyer of the Wing Point Golf and Country Club. The silent auction is 4-6:30 p.m, cost $30; dinner and live auction begin at 7 p.m.; cost is $100.

Information: 842-2688.

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