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Thursday, September 20 Local

Greenwich artist embraces realism in her oil paintings

GREENWICH — Rebecca Smith Ford freely admits she’s “covetous” of art.

Walking through a museum or gallery, Ford might spy a work that speaks to her so loudly that she wants to make it her own by incorporating it into her painting.

“It’s about looking and loving the image, making the image mine by painting it,” the Greenwich artist said. “It’s a lot like consuming. They become mirrors. I will literally look at one of my own paintings and think I am looking at myself.”

Art lovers will get a peek inside Ford’s imagination at “Looking Forward, Looking Back,” a new exhibition opening Sept. 6 at the Greenwich Library’s Flinn Gallery. Kicking off the gallery’s 90th anniversary season, the show will feature work from four artists, including nine paintings Ford completed over the last three years.

Ford, a Pittsburgh native, earned art degrees at Carnegie Mellon and Yale universities, but she said the realist style she employs these days had fallen out of favor when she was in school. She has taught herself through trial and error over the last several years.

As an undergrad, she worked in assemblage and installations, moving on to flat-tone painting in graduate school. But she says she’s found her true calling in realism since she went back into the studio in 2010.

“I really had to knuckle under and teach myself,” said Ford, who works from a Port Chester studio.

Works in the Flinn exhibit will highlight Ford’s interest in melding elements of other paintings into her work, juxtaposing and integrating elements and often employing exquisite still life flowers or trompe l’oeil in her oils on canvas.

“They become meditations or devotional,” she said.

Though she’s been working in art for decades — she spent about 10 years as an art dealer representing emerging artists in New York City — Ford said many of her Greenwich friends might not realize she’s an artist. Many know her as the woman who manages the Christ Church bookstore and directs the church’s Courage & Faith speaker series.

Though she did exhibit and sell some of her earlier work, she doesn’t know what became of much of it.

“I don’t know where a lot of it is,” she said. “I’m not that precious about my early work.”

Her most recent creations are a different story. The nine paintings in the Flinn show represent the largest grouping she has ever shown and reveal her style in a way she has always wanted to paint.

She’s excited to share her work with the Greenwich community.

“I want to shout from the rooftops,” she said, laughing. “This is what I do when I’m not selling books!”

“Looking Forward, Looking Back” runs from Sept. 6 through Oct. 17. The public is invited to an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 6. Also, at 2 p.m. Sept. 16, Ford will take part in an Artist Talk at the gallery with the other three artists in the show, Rebecca Clark, Hilary Irons and Alexandra Rozenman.

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For more information, visit http://flinngallery.com/looking-forward-looking-back/.

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