trendysomething in somo
My life as a nude model ... purely tasteful exhibitionism, of course
I've never been one for window blinds. There's something about walking around the house in underwear (or less), knowing that you might catch the attention of passersby (and if you're me, make his or her day).
I'm not into anything naughty in public (I avoid George Michael-style shenanigans), but when you're young and restless, why not let the world know? It's a beautiful way to translate narcissism into generosity — community service wrapped in gold lamé hot pants.
It was with this self-awareness that I leaped on the opportunity to pose for artist Heyd Fontenot at Inman Gallery. I knew all about Heyd since he'd won a spot on New American Painting's Western Competition 2009, juried by Terrie Sultan, former director of Blaffer Gallery. Fontenot is featured in the current exhibition at Inman, do i know you along with a stash of recent portraiture by Amy Blakemore, Anglea Fraleigh and Francesca Fuchs (among others).
Explains Kerry Inman, the show investigates the "slippery idea of our very fragile human identity."
In conjunction with do i know you, the gallery has arranged for portrait sittings with Fontenot. The artist spends an hour taking digital images to be converted into drawings in the following months, culminating in an exhibition at Inman Gallery in Spring 2011. Recalling the image of the Austin-based artist's compound portraits gracing the cover of New American Painting, I signed up with the assumption that I'd finally get the cover treatment I deserve.
Indeed, I am no stranger to posing for artists. As a sophomore in high school, I'd taken on the role (clothed) for my advanced drawing class. It was a welcome reprieve from having to actually scribble a body myself, but the act of sitting for an hour and a half in a stoic position gave me such aches that could only be cured by taking a week off from school at Urban Retreat.
But I remembered the satisfaction of flipping through an entire classroom's body of work — that was all about my body. I was willing to give it a second shot.
I arrived at my shoot a solid 20 minutes late since I had to pick up my usual venti and end a conversation with my attorney that can be best described as terse. Part of the whole situation's appeal was the shoot being staged in a back room at Inman Gallery's home, the bobo-mecca Spanish-style apartment building, Isabella Court. Designed by the late Florida architect William D. Bordeaux 80 years ago, the complex has been witness to numerous artistic orgies, flagrant fiestas and, now, a new height in nude beauty.
Fontenot wasn't mad about my tardiness, though — artists are laid back like that. We walked into the side studio and he told me what to do. The premise was basic: Disrobe, and stand.
I've never felt so in my element.
Only once or twice did he have to instruct me what positions to take; I just assumed the most languid poses with expertly demure, glazed-over stares (as I've said, I had practiced at home). I accepted the praise with soft smiles, feigned modesty ("Really? I'm 'great at this?'") and a few white lies ("No, I haven't ever been told that I'm 'incredibly handsome.'")
I hoped that my pitch-perfect mix of nonchalance and niceness would leave a good impression, but of course there was that elephant in the room question: When posing nude, is it assumed that you sleep with your portraitist?
I was going off of rumors I'd read about Michelangelo and the model for David, but mostly I was thinking about Gwyneth Paltrow in Great Expectations. The studio didn't have the same moody diffused lighting, I wasn't permitted to chain smoke, and sadly, Ethan Hawke was not present at Inman Gallery. Taking Ethan Hawke's absence as a sign, I kept things professional and avoided posturing for a proposition. Besides, I had to leave immediately afterwards to judge a vodka throwdown before hopping into an H2 limo for a night on the town.
I walked out of Isabella Court with an unexpected level of relaxation. I don't foresee myself becoming a professional nude model (I think those are called porn stars) — but I am highly anticipating my bare-all arrival on the walls of Inman in the spring.