If you’re in Fullerton and stop by The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, you’ll see Allison Adams’ art on display.
Adams lives in San Juan Capistrano and has painted portraits of women considered trailblazers for an exhibit titled “Groundbreaking Girls,” which runs through March 31. Women depicted include Helen Keller, Amy Winehouse, and San Juan Capistrano’s own Modesta Avila.
“I made a connection with the curator some years ago at another exhibit of my work,” Adams said. “It’s taken four years for us to work together, but she invited me, as curator of the Muckenthaler museum, to collaborate on a vision for Women’s History Month.”
The series began in 2017, shortly after the death of Adams’ husband.
“It was a bit of a grief project when it began, to tell the truth,” she said. “I was looking for inspiration, and when I considered all the women who have done great things despite great obstacles, I knew I had hit the jackpot.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic “put a damper on things for a few years,” Adams is happy her work is on display now for in-person visitors.
“I really think that’s how they are meant to be seen,” she said.
When asked about her approach to art and how long her process takes, Adams said her inspiration comes both from her own ideas and interests, as well as wanting to educate others.
“I imagine getting to know a friend while I paint a portrait and then introducing her, so it feels very personal,” she said. “I consider diversity as I look for subjects, and I am drawn to stories and faces from whom I can learn something. Working with historical figures gives me all of that.”
Since Adams mostly works in long-drying oil paint, pieces can take a while—though some paintings come together in merely a day or two.
“I tend to have more than one painting in progress at a time. In my early days of the series, I knew I had an army of paintings in mind, so I worked very quickly,” she said. “Over time, as I secured more commissions, I worked much more deliberately—but time involved doesn’t make a painting better or worse; it’s just the time that that particular conversation took.”
Adams is honored to have her work featured at The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, which she called a “beautiful stately space.”
“I have been able to show 71 pieces in this space. The layout is great,” she said. “It’s fantastic to represent the legacy of strong women in my home county. And I have loved collaborating with (Curator) Lisa M. Berman, who is filled with colorful ideas and has truly brought some pizazz and style to the museum and to the arrangement of my work.”
The museum is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visit Adams’ website at groundbreakinggirls.com to buy her artwork and for more information.
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