Haynes Galleries presents
“Seth Haverkamp: A Passion for the Unique”
April 18 to May 24, 2014
Reception: Friday, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., April 18, 2014

NASHVILLE— For Seth Haverkamp, it’s a family affair in Haynes Galleries’ new vignette show. But while this rising star often paints his daughters and wife, there’s something universal in his narratives. Rather than personal vignettes, Haverkamp’s portraits become celebrations of childhood, by turns wistful and whimsical. A small collection of his new work is included in “Seth Haverkamp: A Passion for the Unique,” a vignette show that accompanies “Celebrating the Portrait as Art.” All exhibits will be on view from April 18 to May 24 at Haynes Galleries, on the Music Row Roundabout.

This show-within-a-show highlights Haverkamp’s award-winning style — luminous, playful, and deeply inspired. He juxtaposes traditional Realism in his portraiture with a more abstract, Klimt-inspired background to mesmerizing effect.

“My primary subject matter is my family and my creativity stems in capturing the many changes in my children’s life as they grow, both physically and emotionally,” he states. “I am taking one moment in time and freezing it, giving the viewer an opportunity to participate in the drama before them. I want the expression on the portrait to hint at something only they know about, to draw the viewer into the mystery of thought and personality.”

And that is where the beauty — and the allure — lies. In the mystery. It’s what makes his work at once personal and broadly appealing.

In Essie’s Unicorn Haverkamp captures his daughter, a girl on the brink of adolescence, hair in pigtails, clutching a stuffed unicorn — the embodiment of innocence and peace. Essie’s Headdress is another show-stopping portrait of Haverkamp’s daughter. His muse stares directly at the viewer, her expression a beguiling mix of sweetness and confidence. On her head sits an unruly crown of twigs and buds about to blossom. It is an ode to growth, to potential, to adolescence.

But his mastery isn’t limited to youth. Haverkamp’s Ernie sits pensively, weathered hands folded, gray hair tightly cropped, looking pensively into the distance as if contemplating the passage of time.

Though many of the most memorable works in the history of art are portraits, many people can’t imagine living with an image of someone they don’t know. Haverkamp’s work — and philosophy — challenge that notion.

“Most of us pass by strangers and don’t notice them. We ignore their physical properties, the way they carry themselves, the look in their eyes,” he says. “By painting people it forces us — just by the act of viewing the painting — to see people for the first time and to see them in a particular and specific way; through the artist's eyes.”

Whether a commissioned portrait or a narrative piece, the view through the artist’s eyes is captivating.