- Associated Press - Friday, April 3, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Life’s triumphs and tragedies inspire many artists.

Chris LaPorte experienced one of his greatest achievements as the $250,000 first prize winner of ArtPrize 2010.

A new exhibition of the Grand Rapids artist’s work began as a reaction to the sudden, accidental death of his father 13 months earlier, according to The Grand Rapids Press ( https://bit.ly/1BIuI06 ).

LaPorte’s latest body of work, “Chris LaPorte: Portraits, New and Old,” opened Wednesday at Pine Rest’s Postma Center in Cutlerville.

Life-size pencil drawings, inspired by antique photographs, which served as the inspiration for his ArtPrize 2010 prize-winning entry, “Cavalry, American Officers, 1921,” are part of the exhibition of 49 drawings and one print.

Most of the show is of smaller studies for larger, monumental pieces including “Cavalry” as well as for two of his subsequent ArtPrize entries, “City Band” in 2012 and “Family Room; Lineage” in 2014.

“What I discovered through these works is the opportunity to explore many themes that relate to the scope of human life and the challenge to communicate this scope in a singular picture,” LaPorte said. “I’m transforming the imagery from a documentary photo into a work that is alive by shifting the scale, altering the expressions of the subjects, and by using pencil as a medium.”

Many of the studies have never been exhibited before by the artist who’s an associate professor of art at Aquinas College, where his ArtPrize 2010 prize-winning work currently is on display at the college’s Hauenstein Library.

“The time and energy that each of these works require is evident and imbue the works with ‘breath.’ I wish to further explore how the energy of line may imply more narrative within my work,” said LaPorte, a native of Bay City.

A number of life-size portraits, including his most recent work, are in the exhibition that spans the past five years.

Though character studies for many of his monumental works, such as “City Band,” are in the show, none of the immense drawings themselves are included.

“I would have liked to have exhibited my large scale work,” he added. “But the gallery wall space is limited.”


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, https://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids

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