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Portraits honor veterans

Photo Credit: STAFF PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Painter Paul X. Rutz works on a portrait of Lake Oswego veteran Ralph Drewfs.

Oil paint artist Paul X. Rutz and sculptor Christopher B. Wagner invite the public to replace war’s statistics and politics with a focus on human connections by viewing their exhibit, Between Here and There: Portraits of Veterans. The exhibit opens with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Nov. 7 at Good: a gallery, located at 4325 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, and continues through Nov. 30.

This two-medium portrait project focuses on Portland-based military veterans from various backgrounds. Models for the portraits include veterans Lance Gregner of West Linn and Ralph Drewfs of Lake Oswego.

“There are two big motivations for the exhibit,” Rutz said. “The first is veteran centered and the second is about the craft that we work in.” Rutz and Wagner have been paired at other art exhibits together, including showing at Portland Open Studios and Gordino Gallery.

“We’ve had conversations about how we might bend the rules we receive to communicate what we want to communicate, and come up with a way to think of portraits in a new way,” Rutz said. “Portraits are just representations of people, it is something of a person. Being together with a model a sculptor will do what he does and a painter will do what he does.”

Rutz adds details to his portrait of Drewfs.

Both artists have a great deal of concern for veterans’ issues; Rutz is a U.S. Navy vet and Wagner worked in a veterans’ center. They wanted to create portraits of veterans, each in his medium, that together would represent a complete portrait of the veteran. Each portrait comes in two parts: an oil painting and a sculpture, done live and simultaneously with a combat vet as the subject. The series portrays individuals in the community with their own tastes and biases. Veterans representing a range of conflicts, from World War II, through Vietnam, into today’s conflicts, posed as squash player, naked bike rider, inventor, photographer and more. Rutz said the idea of “betweenness” drives the project as each portrait exists being between battlefield and home, as well as respecting the gaps between all of our experiences. The artists consider their portraits as a means to welcome veterans home.

Wagner works on detailas of the sculpture he is making of Gregner.

Since the beginning of the year, Rutz and Wagner have worked with eight veteran models, both men and women. Portraits of 10 veterans will be completed by the end of the year.

The exhibit continues through Nov. 30.

The artists work each represents just half of the portrait.

Rutz, Wagner and Drewfs spent between 30 and 40 hours together working on the portraits.

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