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Peekskill Portrait Project Captures Character Of City

Recognize anyone you know? This likeness is one of many made during artist Christopher Rigney's Portrait of Peekskill project. A reception for Peekskill Project 6 works will be held on Sunday, April 3, at the Flatz Building on the city's Main Street.
Recognize anyone you know? This likeness is one of many made during artist Christopher Rigney's Portrait of Peekskill project. A reception for Peekskill Project 6 works will be held on Sunday, April 3, at the Flatz Building on the city's Main Street. Photo Credit: Provided

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- A Peekskill painter’s attempts to bring portraiture to the people will be celebrated at a reception downtown this weekend.

Christopher Rigney’s project, said sponsors, not only captured the city’s character but its peoples' imagination as well.

It was all done as part of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art’s Peekskill Project 6.

An ad hoc portrait studio was set up in the window of Westchester Community College’s satellite on North Division Street and, from October to December last year, folks could wander in and have their likeness put down on canvas for free.

The intent was, Rigney said, to democratize art and the portrait painting experience.

“I wanted to create art that truly involved the community, beyond just ‘checking things out’ one weekend during an opening,” he said.

The “Portrait of Peekskill” project was one of 57 accepted by a curatorial committee from more than 300 local and international submissions.

Sponsors say many people would walk by the window every day just to see the paintings develop. They would also stop to ask questions about portraits and paintings in general.

Some said they had never been to an actual art museum, even though the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art is only minutes away on the city’s Main Street.

Peekskill resident Lawrence Flood, who sat for his portrait, said later that it was “fun to recognize friends and local acquaintances” in the other paintings.

Maureen Winzig, president of the Peekskill Arts Alliance, said the project gave ordinary folks the chance to become “personally involved in and excited about the beauty of art in a whole new way.”

“They witnessed the work and dedication it takes to create art up close and personally.” Winzig said, adding that it “made them proud as well as invested in the arts in their community.”

A reception for Peekskill Project 6, will be held from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at the Flatz Building. 1008 Main St., Peekskill.

The show itself runs from April 3 through April 27.

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