Work by Berkshire artist chosen for National Portrait Gallery

WEST STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Ilene Spiewak spends her days at her professional art studio in West Stockbridge, but next week she’ll be heading to Washington DC, where one of her works will be on display at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

“I knew the one I sent them was a really powerful track,” Spiewak said. “But I didn’t expect to be a semi-finalist first, then I got an email telling me that I was indeed accepted into the show.”


What do you want to know

  • Ilene Spiewak’s self-portrait will be exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery
  • He is one of 42 finalists in the gallery’s national portrait competition
  • Spiewak said she was surprised to be chosen as a finalist
  • She hopes it will give her more exposure and lead to a possible show of her own.

Spiewak’s submission, a partially nude self-portrait, is one of 42 selected works in the National Portrait Gallery‘s Outwin Boocher Portrait Contest.

This painting took her about two or three months, which for her is not very long.

“Sometimes the work comes from me and it’s not a struggle,” Spiewak said. “But there is also something to be said for wrestling.”

Over the years, Spiewak has had his work in exhibitions across the Northeast. She thinks it’s going to be surreal to see her work in such an important setting.

“It’s really hard to contextualize what it’s going to look like, what it’s going to look like,” Spiewak said. “I’m very excited. I can’t believe it’s going to be there either.

Spiewak hopes the exhibit, which opens April 30, will give him more exposure and perhaps lead to his own portrait exhibition.

However, even if nothing comes of it, she is proud of the progress made.

“From a kid who got C’s in art, and you know, we had to sit at our desks and trace and draw and copy, to what I can do now, that’s a story I couldn’t really ever imagine,” Spiewak said.

Julia P. Cluff