Artist Robert Townsend was looking for slides on eBay years ago when he came across an image of woman from the 1960s.
Townsend often sifted through slides of strangers, but most were blurry or poorly composed, or the color had degraded.
But this slide was clear and colorful, so he purchased it, maybe as inspiration for a future painting.
Later he came across another slide of the same woman. And then another.
The images showed the woman by a pool or cooking on the grill, even competing on a game show in Hawaii with her husband. Townsend was intrigued by the woman and her life of decades earlier.
“The story just kept unfolding in each image,” he said.
Townsend reached out to the sellers and learned they had acquired nearly 3,000 slides from a recent estate sale and were selling them one by one. He convinced them to sell him the entire collection, and he has been painting the woman as part of series inspired by amateur vintage slide collections ever since.
His latest work in the series, including some featuring the woman he later learned was named Helen, are part of his upcoming exhibition at Altamira Fine Art.
The show, “Joie de Vivre,” opens Tuesday at Altamira Fine Art with a public a ticketed event, during which Townsend will talk about his work with local arts writer Katy Niner, from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Cloudveil, the new hotel at the corner of Deloney and Center, and a public reception set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at the gallery. Tickets for the Cloudveil event cost $20 and can be purchased at TinyUrl.com/vcvyv3dv.
The show features new work Townsend created over the last few months. Most of the pieces are large scale and part of the amateur vintage slide series he has been working on for six or seven years. The show also includes a few smaller paintings of bikinis, inspired by Townsend’s home of Los Angeles.
The bikini paintings might make a viewer think of the beach or summer, but they only hint at a story, Townsend said. The vintage slide paintings give a fuller glimpse into a person’s life.
Townsend buys slides on eBay that he then re-creates in paint. The ones he uses for his work are amateur images, taken on family