Visionary Picnic is a new body of work that began with a large-scale painting titled The Boulevard is not that bad (2022). Based on photos of two friends who modeled outdoors behind my studio, the image references Manet’s Le Déjeuner Sur l’herbe (1862) and Cezanne’s Luncheon on the Grass (1869). I staged the scene to look like a picnic, using props given to me over the years: a teapot, champagne, a quilt, and a picnic basket. These everyday items allowed me to weave my memories into a scene that manifests leisure and bounty.

The painting serves as the axis for the exhibit; the concept of a picnic and its multiple associations became my focus while preparing for the show. In most straightforward definitions, ‘picnic’ means ‘an outdoor meal, often in which the ‘participants bring food and other items with them’; it can also mean ‘an easy undertaking’ or a ‘fun experience.’ By leaving men out of these images, I emphasize the agency and intimacy of the women.

In my use of graffiti in the paintings and on the gallery wall, I juxtapose a dystopian element against the ideal of contently being in nature. Visionary Picnic celebrates the space between Arcadia and scrolling iPhones, between being self-conscious and totally unguarded. I question how far we can get away from our anxiety when we allow ourselves to go on an imaginary excursion.

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Add to Calendar 20230407 America/New_York 9 Hillyer Court, NW Washington DC 20008 Sharon Shapiro: Visionary Picnic