Unflinching. An apt expression of the portraits created by the artist Alice Neel. Way back in the 80’s when we were all trying to figure out what it looked like to be an artist—what it meant to make, to practice, there was Alice Neel. Her paintings were introduced to me in a slide (remember those?)---lecture. I was alternately fascinated and uncomfortable while looking at these images. The portraits are honest. The gaze of the sitter is lively, pressured, thoughtful – unromantic. Private. They are honest in a private deep way. Alice Neel’s life was tragic—and certainly – much could be learned from the bohemian culture she and her two sons were swimming in--- but what is most striking at this point in life about Alice Neel and her work is that she continued to pursue and chase after that itch, that thought that was inside another. Her pursuit to express the other --- the sitter--- so defiantly direct and unencumbered by the societal expectation that even now the feel of her portraits and brushstrokes is palatable. Art is made for many reasons --- material and people are used as subject matter for a variety of agendas--- but really --- don’t we have enough covered up—closed off --- and at the same time don’t we as a culture have so much exposed? It is in the what’s there --- and what are they thinking? And what was she – Alice Neel - thinking? That is the intrigue – the puzzle. And a puzzle that is very worth spilling the box open and scattering the pieces to place them back together --- and like the portrait subject---maybe not so neatly.