A Rogues’ Gallery, by Maria E. Piñeres

12/07/2005 12:00 AM |


An unsightly picture of a celebrity on the red carpet can be criminal, but what about the photo a star poses for when actually being accused of a crime?  For her show, A Rogues’ Gallery, artist Maria E. Piñeres takes some infamous celebrity mug shots and adds a touch of whimsy to create an installation of needlepoint portraits. 
“I really liked these pictures; there were no stylists and lots of emotion”, says Piñeres of the eighteen mug shots she chose to depict.  “The fans (of the celebrities) actually like the show the most; they treat the work sensitively”, said Piñeres about some of the art enthusiasts that came out to DCKT Contemporary to check out her work.
Some of the portraits in Piñeres’ show are somewhat plain, or perhaps as exciting as needlepoint can get.  The artist does however seize the opportunity to take some creative license with some of the photos.  “I especially like the one of Nick Nolte”, says Piñeres when pointing out one of her favorites.  “It has kind of a kaleidoscope-y background”.
Indeed, the portrait of Nick Nolte is perhaps the most impressive in the series. Piñeres takes the actor’s head and ill-conceived Hawaiian shirt and stitches it on the grid four times in a circular motion.  Then she pastes the image behind a random pattern of brightly colored flowers, making the spectator almost as dizzy as the inebriated Nolte must have felt when posing for the shot. Piñeres also adds a regal touch to the King of Pop by embroidering a gold background to the pic Jacko posed for when being accused of child molestation back in 2003. 
Piñeres also manages to capture some emotion in the faces of the celebs albeit through an unorthodox medium. Lil’ Kim is visibly grumpy in Piñeres’ interpretation of the mug shot the rapstress posed for while being accused for possession in 1996; the musician is incidentally serving time for an unrelated crime. Piñeres’ also manages to capture the odd smirk on Bill Gate’s face when Mr. PC poses for a shot he took back in 1977 for a traffic violation.
According to both the artist and the gallery, the show was a big hit. “We sold over half of (the portraits) on the opening night”, said Piñeres who admits that she doesn’t know what’s next on her professional agenda. Perhaps next time she will once again be able to find commercial value in the unfortunate illustrations of larger-than-life accused criminals.