Review: Living Legends 2012 Exhibition at Barnes & Noble

Review: Living Legends 2012 Exhibition at Barnes & Noble

I have a digital camera…it’s easy to take pictures… I set it on “idiot proof” and shoot portraits to capture special people in my life. Some end up in “the cloud;” lots still live on my camera.

But, somewhere along the line I’ve missed the talent gene and its even more obvious that years of study and hard work marks the huge difference between what I produce and true photographic art.

There is a timely opportunity to visit the Alexandria City Town Hall to view the photographic portraits of the 2012 Living Legends. The foyer space is aligned now with the exceptional black and white portraits of the honorees. Choosing the format of black and white challenges the photographer to find ways to bring forth the personality of the subject without relying on color. Professional art photographer Nina Tisara, whose poignant portrait work is well known and widely exhibited and collected, has shot the majority of the work.


Photo by Nina Tisara

Nina Tisara’s Living Legends portrait of Bill Kehoe.

The continuing concept of Living Legends is to photograph each awardee in their own environment. Tisara feels that finding a comfortable place for her subjects will enhance their relaxation and help provide the natural quality and personality that she wants to evoke. Indeed her hours of planning, shooting, and choreographing each shoot has again created a panoply of artistic excellence.

There are no happy accidents when the Living Legends are photographed. Among the most moving is Bill Kehoe as he stands in front of the fire department that has so influenced his “give back” to his community. It is carefully composed so that the flawless composition swirls around the subject and the viewer is inadvertently drawn into the pride and genuine quality of the subject.

Bud Hart’s portrait is more casual. A man in the midst of his sharing what he loves. His hands-on work in the community is taken at face value as his hands are reflected in the hands reaching out to him.

Steven Halperson, also a talented artist, provided back up to Tisara as he has done in previous years and photographed Joe Shumard. In addition it needs to be noted that Halperson’s contribution of flawless matting and framing lends a flow to the exhibition. Individual remarks about each legend are placed within the double mat and artfully manages to enhance the work without distraction for those who take the time to read them. However, the quality of the beautiful art stands on its own without need of verbiage.

Always giving back to the community itself, founder Nina Tisara and Steven Halperson worked closely to incorporate the opportunity for NOVA student Joe Bleach to be mentored in the project. Bleach’s work on two of the 13 legends is included in the well-lit and -presented exhibition.

Alexandria citizens should take the opportunity to go to town hall for more than paying their taxes. Plan on spending a few extra minutes perusing this art exhibition. You don’t have to know the subjects when you arrive but the artistic quality of the photographs will make you feel like they are old friends when you leave.

Note: The 2012 Legend portraits may be seen in the Market Square Lobby of City Hall through February. Photograph portraits of 10 past year's Legends are on view at Barnes & Nobles Booksellers, 3651 Jefferson Davis Highway. Nominations for the Legends of 2013 will be accepted through midnight, Nov. 15. For information, visit