August 8, 2008
Yountville Portrait Project Unveiled
At Monday, August 11 Block Party
AUGUST 7, 2008—YOUNTVILLE, NAPA VALLEY, CA.—On Monday a 72’ long, 10’ high wall constructed by the Bardessono, an environmentally sustainable inn and spa slated for completion this winter, becomes home to a portrait of this community of 2,900. Former urban planner and committed community builder Phillip Sherburne of Decatur Island and Seattle, WA., underwrote the project after he was introduced to San Francisco photographer Christopher Irion and his work documenting communities all across America.
Sherburne’s vision intersected with Irion’s and in just a few weeks after meeting, the two men laid plans to bring the townspeople together to experience themselves as a community in the same way others have over five years and 20,000 miles of Irion’s travels with a handmade PhotoBooth packed in his Volkswagen Eurovan.
Long a photographer of celebrities and prominent figures whose work is seen in books and high-profile publications as well as museums and gallery shows, Irion determined it was community that most interested him. He began five years ago with a project in his neighborhood where he created 500 portraits of the people who frequented Farley’s Café. The photographs were taken over several months with each individual entering the PhotoBooth and Irion positioned outside, his camera lens poking through the booth wall.
The privacy of the PhotoBooth allows the subject to relax and creates a direct and intimate quality with the sitter appearing to look at the viewer. Images are printed in a 16” x 24” format and combined to form a grid of portraits. Importantly, Irion includes on his photo murals all who choose to participate in the projects. It is visually democratic.
That first portrait was installed late one night. The next day when Irion turned up at Farley’s he was greeted with a standing ovation and neighbors with tears in their eyes. “It was then,” Irion recalls, “that I knew I’d hit one out of the park.”
The portrait is a way for the community to visualize its own interconnectedness by taking individuals beyond one-dimensional judgments to see the warp and weft that create the fabric of a community.
Since that first installation, Irion has set up his booth on college campuses, at county fairs and on city sidewalks. Everywhere he goes, he and teams of volunteers work hard to persuade a real cross section of the community to participate.
In Yountville space was allotted for 215 images. Sherburne and the Bardessono host the community for the unveiling of the portrait from 4:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Monday, August 11. The street in front of this construction project will be closed for the event. ###
The Yountville Portrait Project Unveiling
MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 4:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
Yount and Washington Streets, Yountville
Refreshments will be served.