In the past, it was typical that friends and acquaintances greeted Alexandra Tyng with suggestions concerning the restoration of her Victorian home. These days, the Narberth artist is still rarely without advice, but the project that now occupies her time is “Portraits for the Arts,” designed to raise funds for the region’s arts-related organizations.
Begun informally in late 2005, “Portraits” is a series of paintings depicting people and artists Tyng admires. A fan of Philadelphia’s master portrait painters—Thomas Eakins and Mary Cassatt among them—the 53-year-old says the project partly grew out of a “what if” discussion over the same limitations faced by those 19th-century artists, whose careers were largely dependent on commissions from wealthy patrons.
“I wondered what more you could do, so that [portrait work] is just not limited to commissioned work,” she recalls, explaining the idea behind a fundraising tool she calls “donating money without actually using money.”
The premise requires an individual or institution to commission a portrait with the understanding that Tyng will receive 40 percent of her regular fee, with the remaining 60 going to an arts-related charitable cause.
The series includes celebrities, lesser-knowns and family members. (Tyng is the daughter of renowned architect Louis Kahn.) And she hopes for more nominations. For information or to nominate someone, call (610) 644-0651 or visit alexandratyng.com.