Arts & Entertainment

F.C.’s ArtSpace Welcomes ‘Best In Show’ Artist Seth Haverkamp

haverkampactionFalls Church may not be considered the artistic capital of the world yet, but with the opening of the Falls Church ArtSpace at 410 South Maple Avenue and the unveiling of the work of young artists like Seth Haverkamp, the city is closer than ever to rivaling Paris or New York. He was there last Friday night and his works are on display there till Oct. 24.

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SETH HAVERKAMP took to his easel in front of a live crowd Friday. (Photo: News-Press)

 

Falls Church may not be considered the artistic capital of the world yet, but with the opening of the Falls Church ArtSpace at 410 South Maple Avenue and the unveiling of the work of young artists like Seth Haverkamp, the city is closer than ever to rivaling Paris or New York. He was there last Friday night and his works are on display there till Oct. 24.

Haverkamp, a 2003 graduate of Carson-Newman College, is working hard to rise in the ranks of the art community, having won the 2008 “Best in Show” award at the portrait competition of the Portrait Society of America. He has also spent time studying in the studio of Philadelphia-based artist Nelson Shanks at the Studio Incamminati Workshop. Stephen Doherty, the editor of American Artist magazine, has said of Haverkamp, “I haven’t seen this much promise in a young artist in a long time.”

All of my color mixtures, to me, seem kind of fresh and I try to make them as powerful as I can make them out to be. When there’s not a lot of light, you can get some intense colors to get the light to ‘bounce’ off of it.

So it made perfect sense that a fairly decent-sized crowd would show up to the ArtSpace building to see Haverkamp paint a portrait and discuss his technique last Thursday night. The crowd sat quietly and stared intensely while Haverkamp painted a man’s portrait using shades of brown and yellow paint from his (appropriately) dirty palette.

“All of my color mixtures, to me, seem kind of fresh and I try to make them as powerful as I can make them out to be. When there’s not a lot of light, you can get some intense colors to get the light to ‘bounce’ off of it,” he said.

The works that were placed around the studio, all of them portraits and several of them of children, showed a tremendous amount of influence from the Impressionist painters such as Degas and Manet, although all show Haverkamp’s use of shading that brings a darkness to the portrait without making it appear “emotionally” dark.

“I try to keep it simple while capturing the overall appearance [of an area],” said Haverkamp while painting and occasionally taking questions from the audience.

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(Photo: News-Press)

Although Haverkamp lamented the lack of time he had to fully capture the subject being painted at the event, the finished product appeared as if it could join the rest of the paintings in the gallery and have been sold off right there.

“Given the length of time allotted, I focused on the mass of light surrounding [his] features. And though it would be nice to play with this fun stuff, there’s just no enough time to get into it,” he said

After doing a solo show in a D.C. gallery in February of 2007, 24 of his paintings were sold and signed by three galleries. Although the starving artist cliché is deeply engrained in people outside the art community, and although Haverkamp is tall and thin, it appears that he does not yet have this problem given the buzz he is generating and the prices he can command for his work.

Haverkamp is also close friends with fellow artist Nick Galifianakis, a Falls Church native who draws the cartoons that accompany Carolyn Hax’s “Tell Me About It” column. Galifianakis, who is scheduled to unveil his most recent artwork on Oct. 28 at the ArtSpace and conduct a book-signing of his most recent book “If You Loved Me, You’d Think This Was Cute: Uncomfortably True Cartoons” on Nov. 11, showed up to support Haverkamp’s exhibit.

“He’s young and he works hard and this is just another step in his career, so hopefully everything will go well after tonight.” said Galifianakis.

After the portrait was finished (in the time given), Haverkamp was greeted to thunderous applause from the crowd and almost swarmed by people going up to either congratulate him or ask his opinion on an artistic style or technique. Many members of the audience went closer to the portrait to see his various shades and techniques up-close. The final image was similar to his other portraits, although brighter and with a slight Jackson Pollock influence around the edges.

But while this night may have looked like any other wine-and-cheese art gathering to an outsider (except that the wine had a “suggested donation” price instead of someone behind the bar), for Haverkamp it was another chance to cement his reputation in a profession that is difficult to make a living in and virtually impossible to become famous in.

Nevertheless, Haverkamp remains dedicated to the craft and, provided that the praise and awards keep rolling in, will keep at it for years to come.

• For more on Seth Haverkamp, visit sethhaverkamp.com.