Large-scale portraits by Chuck Close to be on exhibit at museum

The Housatonic Museum of Art will present the exhibit “Chuck Close and his Turnaround Arts Kids” from Nov. 7 to Dec. 15 in the Burt Chernow Galleries, 900 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport.

An opening reception will take place Thursday, November 7 from 7:30–8:30 p.m. The gallery, open seven days a week, is free to the public. It is located on the Housatonic Community College campus.

The exhibit will feature five large-scale archival watercolor pigment prints provided by artist Chuck Close, whose monumental portraits explore the intersection of photography and painting.

To create his photo-based work, Close places a grid on the photo and on the canvas, and systematically builds his images by applying small strokes of paint in multiple colors.

Mentored students in Bridgeport

Close, who works out of New York City, recently mentored 34 students in the sixth through eighth grades at Bridgeport's Roosevelt School, one of eight schools in the nation to participate in President Barack Obama’s Turnaround Arts initiative. The program aims to improve low-performing schools by increasing student "engagement" through the arts.

The public-private partnership was developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council. Close was one of the eight high-profile creative talents who volunteered for the program, working closely with the selected school students, faculty and surrounding communities.

Studies have shown that an arts-rich education, especially for low socio-economic status students, can help youngsters in academic achievement, completion of high school and college, and becoming contributing members of their community.

Yet recent federal surveys indicate that students from low-income areas are being disproportionately short-changed on arts education opportunities in their schools.

Known for his large-scale portraits

Charles Thomas "Chuck" Close, born in 1940 in Washington state, achieved early fame as a painter through his large-scale painted portraits, mostly of family and artist friends. Throughout his career, Close has used drawing, painting, printmaking, handmade paper collage, photography and Jacquard tapestries for portraiture.

Although a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 left him severely paralyzed and he now relies on a wheelchair, Close has continued to work with a brush strapped to his wrist.

His work has been the subject of more than 150 solo exhibitions and is in the collections of most of the great international museums of contemporary art, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

For information and gallery hours on the Close exhibit, go to