Silhouette Artist

When I visited my grandma’s house as a child, I spent a lot of time gazing at a framed silhouette of a woman on her wall. The kind of silhouette where the person’s image is cut out from black paper and pasted to a light background.

It was my first exposure to silhouette art. The next time I got that close to real silhouette art was in 2009, when a contractor peeled the drywall off one of the interior walls of my house and I could see that someone at some time had stashed a silhouette portrait of a woman in inside the wall.

The silhouette is amazing because on one hand it perfectly captures the essence of someone, and on the other hand leaves out all the features that we otherwise use to decode someone.

So, I’m delighted to be hosting the third-generation silhouette artist Clay Rice at Ruckus & Glee this November. His grandfather, Carew Rice, was described by Poet Carl Sandburg as “America’s Greatest Silhouettist.” That’s way cool.

Clay visited us last year and our guests marveled at how quickly he can capture someone on paper, in just minutes. Some tools of the trade have evolved – there’s fancier paper and promotion is done on Facebook and via email – but the basics are the same: Clay, his subject, his scissors, and paper.

With the advent of inexpensive photography, silhouettes have gone from mainstream to something quite unexpected.

But there is still magic in the silhouette, and here in Milwaukee we still feel that magic because Clay’s visit is by far our most popular event. At the time of this writing, we have just a few sittings left.

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