Inside the Portrait Studio: The Women of Mad Men

portfolio_portraits_4©Andrea_Sparacio

Megan Calvet / Draper  I’ve grown fond of Megan this season as her character continues to develop. She is free-spirited, outspoken, creative, and knows how to deal with Don. I hope all of her acting dreams come true.

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Sally Draper  The manipulative tween of Don & Betty, Sally is surely a rebel in the make. A daughter of divorce, rock & roll, the 1960s, and just on the brink of womanhood; I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her next.

portfolio_portraits_1©Andrea_Sparacio

Joan Holloway / Harris  While a few storylines had me cringing for Joan in the past, some good things are on the rise for her, both in Season 5 and in episodes to come. Also, did you know that Joan plays the accordion!? She’s awesome.

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Dawn Chambers  Dawn, oh dear Dawn; the newest hire, Don’s secretary, and the first black employee of SCDP. And what does Season 5 give you? Very little to work with. All I ask is that Dawn get more screen time in Season 6. MO R E  D A W N  P L E A S E ! ! ! Thank you, that is all.

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Peggy Olson  Without giving away any spoilers, things are looking really good for Peggy Olson. After an entire season of longing for the metaphoric (and literal) lobster lunch, Peggy is taking her career by the horns. No more gazing through the looking-glass, no more a stranger to airplanes and business trips; nobody puts Peggy in the corner!

portfolio_portraits_3©Andrea_Sparacio

Betty Draper / Francis / Birdie  Saving the best for last, I could have drawn Betty in any number of ways; the uptight mother who can’t control her kids, picture-perfect 1960s American housewife in all the right outfits, or following the internet craze of “Fat Betty, blam de lam.” And while I totally love fat Betty, I decided to draw my personal favorite Betty: Season 1, Episode 9…suburban backyard, pink nightgown-clad, cigarette dangling out of bright red lips, rifle in hand. If Betty can’t be free than neither can those damn pigeons! But I think true freedom is still on the way for her, and all you Betty haters out there can stuff it.

Playing Dress Up: Cindy Sherman at MoMA

Cindy Sherman is an American photographer and film director, best known for her conceptual portraits in which she uses herself as the model. She takes on the role of photographer, model and stylist, disguising herself with make-up, wigs, costumes and prosthetics. I’ve been meaning to see this for ages and finally got myself to MoMA before her exhibit closes on Monday, June 11. There is only one day left; try to catch it if you can!

I really loved the show and did not expect to both laugh out loud and be physically horrified so much within the same time frame. Whether she’s taking on history, clowns, film, politics, sexuality, diseases, or women who look like they’re from Jersey Shore, I was captivated and felt immersed within each world Sherman personally created for us.

My favorite piece was her early stop-animation work entitled Doll Clothes, where the female doll is first seen behind plastic, anxiously waiting to come out and play. You can view this short film on Vimeo here:

Speaking of dolls and their parts, I felt inspired by Cindy Sherman to use myself in an art piece, which is something I rarely (if ever) do. I started out with a different concept but allowed it to take on other shapes and forms. Here is the result:

Last but not least, how can I talk about playing dress up without mentioning my beloved Amy Sedaris? Amy is an American comedic actress, best know for playing Jerri Blank in Strangers with Candy, and like Sherman is also in her 50’s. From reading David Sedaris, I have learned that since childhood his sister has been active in creating different characters and walking around in fat-suits, while later stuffing lemons in her bra for the cover of BUST and talking about her imaginary boyfriend, Ricky, in interviews. She appears most comfortable in these external personas rather than playing herself, but unlike Sherman, Sedaris seems to do it more for entertainment value than high art.

I love these women; both unafraid to look ugly and morph into these limitless identities. For the full Cindy Sherman photo gallery, visit the MoMA exhibition website here.

Housing Works Illustration

I have been fortunate to work with the incredible people of Housing Works for several projects now, and was extra honored when the creative & marketing staff specifically requested me for their Spring 2012 brochure. With 32,000 copies made, in-store posters, ads in Time Out New York, and artwork illustrating this Sunday’s Housing Works Open Air Street Fair, I was super excited to collaborate! You can now pick up this brochure at any one of your local Housing Works. Here is a sample of the illustration process:

I was at the Park Slope location when I first saw the brochure & poster; I’m so happy with the way it all turned out:

Come & stop by the Open Air Street Fair THIS SUNDAY! June 3, 10am to 5pm on Crosby Street. There will be books, clothes, music, food and more. For more information, click the Housing Works site here. Hope to see you there! xo, artsparrow