Microcosms of our society are depicted in the carefully staged showroom windows of retail clothing stores as viewed–and reflected--from the street. For several years, I’ve been exploring the visual eloquence of Window Dressing through drawings and oil paintings that feature the multiple realities of mannequins and the reflections of pedestrians, architecture, sky, and bits of flora. As Cathy Horn stated in My Mannequin, Myself: What Talking Heads Say,” New York Times, May 6, 2010, “….even at their worst—headless, colorless, listless—a mannequin tells us something about ourselves.”* What is that “something?” What is the relevance of fashion in divining an answer? And to what extent does dressing foster and aggravate look-ism and consumer-ism, if not also other-ism?
The art that I am now creating pulls together the strands of the multiple years that I have been painting: figurative and portraits, plein air, and still lifes. It gives me an avenue for narration of both blatant and ambiguous themes. I especially enjoy painting the human body and find humanoids fascinating. The reflected cityscape replete with arches and autos and the occasional plant or tree is also a satisfying variation on landscapes. These tableaus give me compelling opportunities to depict stories—fashionable or otherwise—that are all around us.
The paintings originate from photographs that I have taken, most often in New York City. I make a charcoal sketch of the photograph and use it as the basis for initiating the painting with oil bar on an abstracted multi-colored ground. The rest is painted with oil from tubes in layer upon layer. Naturally, the “windows” require much glazing, if not also gazing!
Linda Button was born in Zanesville, Ohio, formerly most famous for its Y bridge straddling the confluence of the Licking and Muskingum Rivers. Before she was three, her family moved to California with all their possessions in a car that her father won in a raffle to benefit the local firehouse. After a short interval, they moved to Venezuela, then Peru, then Colombia—finally returning to Whittier, California when Linda was in 8th grade. This makes her, she says, what is known in some quarters as a third-culture kid. Born in one culture, grew up in another, and therefore not entirely of neither; or, an admixture of both.
Not surprisingly, she has found living in the Washington, DC area (currently in Chevy Chase, MD) since 1976 to be very congenial. Here, people of all cultures come and stay, come and go.
She worked at the Library of Congress as a librarian for 18 years and then turned to what animates her the most: art. Happily, greater DC is rich in that and much else.
She fashioned her own curriculum, focusing on drawing and oil painting. She has taken classes at The Art League School, Montgomery College, the Washington Studio School, and the Yellow Barn. Her most recent “class” was viewing the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In August 2011, she had a solo show at the Penn Place Gallery in Garrett Park, MD. Her work has been shown in two other solo shows and a variety of juried group shows. In 2010, she was commissioned to paint Ruth Kassinger’s conservatory for the cover of her book, Paradise under Glass. Her publisher, HarperCollins, purchased the rights to use the image of the painting for both the book’s hardback and paperback editions. East to west coast, her paintings are held in various private collections.