Photo: Working with Julia Erickson in the studios of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, preparing for my upcoming exhibit of new portrait paintings at Boxheart Gallery (opening on August 24)
Last December, my debut solo exhibition, Beautiful Dreamers, featured portraits of 16 women who make Pittsburgh an exceptional city. On August 24th at Boxheart Gallery (Pittsburgh, PA) is the public reception for my next portraiture exhibition, Julia, a series of oil paintings celebrating Julia Erickson, Principal Dancer with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Creator and CEO of Barre, LLC.
I had asked Julia to be part of my first show, Beautiful Dreamers, and getting to know her through the process of painting her portrait was truly an inspirational experience for me. Not only is Julia a wonderful person, but her dedication to her art, ballet, as well as her entrepreneurial acumen in starting and growing Barre is truly impressive. Getting to know Julia inspired me to approach my painting with the same commitment and passion as she brings to dance.
I was intrigued by the concept of a “serial portrait,” or a series of portraits all about a single subject meant to capture different aspects of the subject’s personality. Andrew Wyeth has, perhaps, the most famous “serial portrait” in his Helga series, and Alex Katz created a similar project through his lifelong dedication to painting his wife, Ada. I became interested in how the cumulative effect of a serial portrait can convey a greater understanding of an individual than a single image or moment. Once I met Julia, I realized I would be honored to attempt a "serial portrait" of such an amazing woman.
I created my paintings for Julia based on a series of photo shoots taken at my home/studio in Greenfield and the studios of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. I am grateful to have been welcomed by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre to observe a studio rehearsal for Giselle where I created life-drawings of Julia, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre also graciously allowed us to use costumes for paintings that will highlight the artistry of PBT’s dramatic productions while also showcasing specific moments of choreography. The centerpiece of the show will be a full-length diptych of Julia as Odette and Odile in Swan Lake.
About Julia Erickson:
Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Julia Erickson received her training on a scholarship with Pacific Northwest Ballet School and San Franciscio Ballet School. She began her professional career in ballet in 1999, when she accepted a position with Fort Worth-Dallas ballet (now Texas Ballet Theatre) where she danced for two seasons. Julia is now a Principal Dancer with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She joined the company in 2001, and is about to enjoy her thirteenth season with the PBT.
Some of Julia’s favorite roles include Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, The Sylph in La Sylphide, Sugar Plum Fairyin The Nutcracker, Lady Capulet in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette, and the leads in Balanchine’s Agon, Prodigal Son, Who Cares? and Serenade.
Julia’s career in ballet has taken her around globe. She has performed at the Sadlers Wells Theater in London, the Edinbugh Festival in Scotland, the Hong Kong Festival in China, and most recently in Israel at venues in Karmiel and Tel Aviv. Locally she has performed with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and choreographed and performed at the annual Dancers’ Trust benefit performance.
Throughout her career in ballet, Julia has maintained her passion for food. In 2010 she combined her love of food and ballet, and started a nutrition bar company appropriately called Barre! Barre is a real food nutrition bar conceived of Julia’s own recipe in her South Oakland kitchen. Through Barre, Julia endeavors to teach young dancers the importance of proper nutrition and share the culinary secrets of dancers to the rest of the foodie world.