On the sidewalk in front of the Museum of Modern Art on most days of the week, Purchase College alum Mark Nilsson ’10 (BFA, painting and drawing) lingers aside a table encrusted with paint, waiting for customers.
Aside from rainy days and Tuesdays when the Museum is closed, the 25-year-old stands ready to paint the portrait of anyone willing to pose for an hour. For $50, they will walk away with a unique acrylic impasto likeness of themselves.
Michael Torlen, a former professor of Art+Design at Purchase College, recalls Nilsson’s focus and dedication to painting. He recollects:
Soon after Mark’s arrival at Purchase College, I realized his intensity was the result of his deep desire to understand painting. His senior project combined kitsch with sophistication, and the blasé with the earnest, in two bodies of work—portrait paintings from direct observation, and humorous, narrative paintings referencing children’s games, art history, mythology, and popular culture. I expect to see more of Mark Nilsson’s work. He understands painting.
In a recent New York Times profile of the artist—who’s been offering to paint portraits on 53rd Street since the summer of 2011—Nilsson tells of his Purchase College professor who stopped by recently and said to Mr. Nilsson’s customer, “I hope you realize what you’re getting here.”
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