by Gene Marrano
New Jersey native Gerald Hubert has hit the ground running during the year and a half he has lived in Roanoke. The portrait artist – who paints oils depicting some of his favorite pop celebrities, especially Lady Gaga – has opened a downtown studio gallery and has also exhibited his works in other regional markets, including Charlottesville.
Hubert, who lives downtown, has launched his POParazzi working studio and gallery at 36 Kirk Avenue, opening his doors to the public during Art By Night and other events, like last week’s PROject proJECT. He also has regular gallery hours from 4-9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, although those hours have changed on occasion.
Hubert works in oils and will do paintings by request. Michael Jackson, Madonna and David Bowie are other favorite subjects; Hubert has a flair for the dramatic and likes to portray these pop artists at their flamboyant best. Lady Gaga has one of his paintings and even displayed it on an Oprah Show interview she did, with Hubert’s portrait of her on the diva’s dressing room makeup table.
“The theme of my gallery is that everybody is a superstar,” said Hubert, as he welcomed visitors during PROject proJECT. “Spiritual Holograms,” the current show, is in fact based on Lady Gaga’s “manifest,” said Hubert, which was detailed in Little Monsters. “The image she is trying to project for her fans, how you can see yourself as star,” he explained. “I’ve kind of carried that into my work. Everyone is a celebrity; everyone can be a star.”
Hubert looks for interesting photographs of people, without regard as to whether they are already a “star,” then lets his creative mind take off from there.
His next show in August is entitled “Beauty’s Where You Find It: The Legends of Vogue and more.” It is based on Madonna’s “Vogue” and will feature all of the 16 people the long-time pop icon mentions during that song. Other subjects that would not typically be thought of when beauty comes to mind will also get the Hubert treatment during the exhibition.
Hubert is a big fan of the arts scene in Roanoke and was impressed by all of the visitors that wandered into his studio during PROject proJECT – even more than he has seen during Art By Night. “The community gets all excited about something that’s going on and they turn out. It’s been working out really well for me. Just to get people interested in the arts is great.”
Calling himself “pretty prolific,” Hubert said he can turn out five or six smaller paintings a week and then start another half dozen the next week. Some might find his taste or subjects “a little crazy,” but they seem to appreciate his efforts and hard work.
Hubert joins a growing list of artists that have opened small studios or galleries downtown in recent years – Jane Lillian Vance and Ann Bondurant Trinkle among others come to mind – and his POParrazzi gallery further cements Kirk Avenue’s growing reputation as a haven for the arts, of all stripes.
Kirk Avenue Music Hall/Shadowbox Microcinema is right down the block. It’s safe to say, however, that there is no other venue for visual arts in Roanoke quite like POParrazzi at this point.
(See poproanoke.com for more on Gerald Hubert’s works.)