Sarah Dougherty paints rooms. She paints rooms so often that in some sort of a simplistic swoop she chose to title her URL RoomPortraits.com. Of course artists have long painted reality, though today’s young aesthetic creators have largely abandoned traditional still life and landscape painting in favor of fantasy, abstraction, and iconography. Leave it to photographers to take snaps of rooms.
It seems rare, almost humbling, for any artist to choose such an old school theme as a primary outlet for exploration, but Dougherty manages to breathe new life into the subject matter of living space. With an undeniable Latino flair due to her time spent in Mexico City, her paintings rely heavily on the use of pastel tones and moments of saturated color that appear to be strategically placed. Peering closer, the depicted rooms jump off the canvas, an effect created by the diorama techniques Dougherty integrates into her paintings. The furniture is placed like clothes on a paper doll and tiny photographs (via computer printer) represent the room’s own wall art. Washes of color stand next to intricate patterns while layers of implied horizon lines make a grid for delicate detail work. Think of Matisse’s The Red Studio as a jumping-off point but updated by an 80s-generation kid with a paint brush.
Over two dozen of Dougherty’s paintings are hanging at Vacation Gallery and Boutique—though calling the space a “gallery” is a bit of a stretch. Art work is eclectically hung, sharing space with shelves, clothing racks, and tacked-up seven inches. The ratio of art to records, dresses, zines, jewelry, shoes, and other urban street warrior gear is ridiculous. The effect seriously detracts from Vacation’s ability to be taken seriously as a space for art. However, the lovely ladies of Vacation are familiar with an extremely wide range of underground artists, having drawn some big names for their past exhibits. Considering the artists they have hosted and the current talent of Ms. Dougherty, Vacation proves not just a place to stop for Wipers t-shirts, but a suitable setting for this badass feast for the eyes.
Sarah Dougherty’s room portraits are on view through the end of March. Vacation Gallery and Boutique is open every day except Monday.