Speaking of filmmaker Jim Wolpaw, his film “First Face: The Buck Starts Here” — the story of Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington — is scheduled for broadcast on PBS during President’s week. He and partner Steve Gentile investigate the most famous American portrait that no one knows anything about. (Of course, finding Americans who don’t know anything is not terribly difficult.) But Wolpaw and Gentile think more people should know the story of portraitist Gilbert Stuart. He was quite a piece of work, artists often filling the bad-boy rock star slot before electricity was invented. Snuff. . . go figure.
This is the famous, never finished, ‘Atheneum’ portrait now hanging in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Stuart kept it around so he could crank out copies (cha-ching) one of which is now on our dollar bill. And don’t forget that his birthplace, the Gilbert Stuart Museum (snuff mill, fish ladder) is right here in Saunderstown, Rhode Island.
Starting tonight, the show will be aired on the Rhode Island PBS station WSBE: Friday the 18th at 10:30pm; Saturday the 19th at 7pm; and Sunday the 20th at 9pm. Other broadcast times around the country can be found at ITVS. (Good review from ProJo.)
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Bonus: local musician Mark Cutler did the soundtrack for “First Face”!