Nancy Breakstone’s Natural Portraits

There’s something about a small wooden studio off Sylvan Road.

For years it was where artist Perry Barlow worked, creating covers and cartoons for the New Yorker.

Photographer Nancy Breakstone made it her own. She frames and displays photos of abstract patterns she finds everywhere: in the volcanic sand of Costa Rica’s beaches, in coral, even in modernist buildings like the TWA Hotel at JFK. They’ve been on display at local art shows, and online.

She took a turn, creating pictures that could seem tough to understand — until you see how the ocean makes them. Click here for a gallery talk at Silvermine with Trace Burroughs and others, a month before COVID changed everything.

Now Breakstone takes portraits. As always, she’s earned great recognition.

It started 7 years ago. She and her husband Bill Kutik were walking on the coast of Costa Rica, enjoying interesting patterns in the sand. She shot them on her iPhone.

Back at their house, he was surprised. He’d stood next to her, but not seen what she saw. Her photographer’s eye framed things perfectly.

For the past 3 years, the couple  has spent winters in the British Virgin Islands. Breakstone could not find similar abstract natural patterns to photograph.

But she discovered portraits of people. One — a 21-year-old woman named Kimberly — who grew up on an isolated island is a standout track and field athlete events like discus, and distance and relay races.

Her real talent is soccer. She is the goalkeeper for the British Virgin Islands national team.

That’s not enough to pay the bills. Breakstone met her as a day worker at the hotel beach 2 weeks before she headed to Guatemala for the first World Cup qualifying round. The opponent was powerhouse Cuba.

Kimberly said confidently, “We’re gonna win.” She was equally sure a soccer scholarship was coming her way from a college in Louisiana.

They met after the beach bar closed. Breakstone didn’t pose Kimberly; instead, she asked about her life. Breakstone snapped this photo:

Kimberley (Photo/Nancy Breakstone)

Cuba easily beat BVI in the soccer match. But Breakstone’s photo hangs in “Coming of Age,” a show of 70 artists older than 60 at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. It ran on the cover of a newspaper supplement about the show.

Next up: “The Art of Nature.” The art show and sale Breakstone organized opens soon as a benefit for Earthplace. She will show a new 10-part series of coral and other recent work Nine local artists will exhibit their work too.

The opening night reception (April 28, 5 to 9 p.m.) includes a talk with all 10 artists, and wine and canapés donated by Rizzuto’s. Tickets are $15; click here to purchase, and for more information.

The show is free on Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30. It’s a natural!



2 responses to “Nancy Breakstone’s Natural Portraits

  1. Nice job, Dan, but of course I’m insanely prejudiced. The new coral shots you mention that will be at the Earthplace show on April 28 can be previewed along with others at the show here But nothing like seeing them large and in person. I am so lucky to live surrounded by them. See you there.

  2. “in the eye of the beholder” is what makes Nancy’s work so special; Her photography captures what most don’t see so the rest of us can. But what makes Nancy so special is her effort to include & elevate others to help see and understand the world around us.