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WEST ALLIS — The notion of fame and who really living a life of impact is challenged in the exhibit of painted portraits titled FAMOUS, opening Saturday, Aug. 5, in West Allis.

Artist Deb Marett tells the stories, via narrative painted portraits, of 13 people who appear to the casual observer are everyday, normal people, simply going about their work. But by the work they do, the way they live and the people they affect, it is evident that they live lives of intent and impact.

They are much more worthy of our attention than many conventional celebrities.

“From a neighbor who clears the snow from everyone’s sidewalks in his neighborhood to a biologist who works diligently to save a species of cranes from extinction, this show of beautiful narrative portraits will remind you that there are people from all walks of life around us who are quietly making the world a better place,” says Marett, who has spent over two years creating this series of portraits.

One example is Diet Eman who is credited with helping save the lives of hundreds of Jews in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Another hero for Marett is Olu Sijuwade, local musician/community activist, who spreads a message of non-violence through his work as a counselor.

An opening reception will be held 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at Inspiration Studios, 1500 S. 73rd St. The reception will be free to the public. The exhibit runs through Aug. 27.

The artist grew up near the shores of Lake Michigan in a small town which was originally a Dutch settlement. She went to school in upstate New York and stayed there until work brought her to Wisconsin.

“The development of a good likeness is a magical process,” she says. “I feel that painting someone’s portrait is a very collaborative, giving act. It may just be me in the studio, but my subjects’ presence and character are always on my mind as I work.”

An opportunity to meet and hear presentations from three of Marett’s FAMOUS people will take place 3-4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20. Featured speakers will be Jim Schaap, writer, historian and ghost writer of Diet Eman’s autobiography as a Dutch resistance worker during WWII; poet Nick Demske; and musician/activist Olu Sijuwade.

A YouTube video of FAMOUS can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf-seZ49b6k. An accompanying blog about this project is available: http://bit.ly/2uRxYMh and at http://bit.ly/2ovpoOO

Contributed by Erico Ortiz, founder of Inspiration Studios

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