Everything's a Portrait: Watercolors of Dean Mitchell

"Everything's a Portrait: Watercolors of Dean Mitchell" offers more than the title suggests — not just watercolors but oil and acrylic paintings, etchings, and drawings too. Living up to the title, Mitchell's work captures the personality of whatever he explores, whether the balconied buildings in New Orleans or a dilapidated wooden farmhouse in Mississippi. In his traditional portraits, he renders the hearts of his subjects in their facial expressions. Creating what he calls "the beauty of the real," the artist pays homage to the common people of Quincy, Florida, where he grew up. As an African-American, Mitchell acknowledges that he is proud to be creating an artistic legacy that represents other African-Americans; still, his work concerns itself more with people's spirits than their skin. Mr. Powell, for instance, demonstrates a directness and strength in facial expression alone. The man sweeping in Immigrant, peacefully and purposefully, raises the task from menial labor to meditative task. An elderly man sits wrapped in a sheet, the tip of his index finger in his mouth in a self-nurturing gesture as he sits looking out in Erased; his withered cheeks and sunken eyes communicate his loss. Bob, on the other hand, challenges the object of his thoughts with an expression that is inquisitive and demanding. Even in the few portraits of bodies in motion — like Bathed in Light, in which a woman plays saxophone — the subtleties of body language convey deep emotions. Concurrently on display in the upstairs galleries, "Works of the Bonnet House Fine Artist Group" and "Signs of the Times: Sign-Making Art & History From the Mac­Laren Sign Company." (Through June 21 at Cornell Museum, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-243-7922.)

 
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