How do you honor women who have made a difference in Arizona? For the Chandler Center for the Arts Gallery, located in Downtown Chandler, it was about putting together an exhibit of these women in portraiture, painted by Arizona women. A year and a half in the making, the exhibit will debut and be available to public viewing for the first time August 14, 2015 through October 24, 2015.

"The idea came from a national organization called, Women Painting Women," says Eric Faulhaber, Visual Arts Coordinator at the Chandler Center for the Arts Gallery. "Some artists here wanted to create an Arizona chapter. While the chapter hasn't been created yet, this exhibit was developed as a result of that interest. We have been talking about this concept for a few years."

The exhibit will feature 65 portraits of prominent women who have made considerable contributions to their community - artists, novelists, politicians, chefs, activists, philanthropists, physicians. Ten women artists painted all of the portraits - one from Cornville, two from Tucson and seven from the Metro Phoenix area. Each of them is unique in their technique and approach, from watercolor to oil painting, traditional to contemporary.

The process for capturing the paintings was unique in itself. A committee of artists serving the gallery created a list of prominent Arizona women. Then, a call for artists was put out. When a slate of participating artists had been created, each one of them chose who they wanted to paint from that list, and they even added other influential and inspiring women to the list.

"Each artist then introduced themselves to the person they wanted to be their subject, provided a portfolio to be reviewed. Then an in-person meeting was scheduled with the subject in order for the artist to do a brief interview and take photos," says Faulhaber. "For example, Chris Saper had Janet Napolitano as her subject. She flew to California to meet with her and take photos for the portrait. And, the result is a very personal portrait that looks quite spectacular."

Faulhaber added that some of the people who were on the initial list did not end up in the exhibit. They did not want to do the in-person interview and only wanted to send in a publicity shot for the painting. This went against the personal approach they wanted for the exhibit.

Linda Fox, an artist from Chandler, Ariz., chose to paint Nadine Basha, educator and children's advocate, and Jeanette Ralison, novelist. Her oil paintings are bright and personable, bringing to life the intimacy an artist can have with her subject throughout the process of completing a portrait.

"I asked Nadine if I could do her portrait, partly because a show in Chandler calls for an outstanding Chandler woman, and partly because I had some personal connections with her family. I was excited to meet her," says Fox. "I had a lovely time getting to know her. We found we had much in common as women and mothers, as well as an appreciation for beautiful art."

There will be two receptions for this exhibit with the first being on Friday, August 14, 2015, 7 - 9 p.m., including a chance to meet some of the artists and a preview of the exhibit. The second reception is Friday, September 18, 2015, 7 - 9 p.m., giving attendees the opportunity to once again meet some of the artists, as well as view paintings in progress with live demonstrations by artists.

The Chandler Center for the Arts Gallery is located at 250 N. Arizona Avenue (on the Northwest corner of Chandler Road and Arizona Avenue). Admission to the Gallery is free. Hours are Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Saturday, 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. More information about the gallery and its exhibits can be found at www.chandlercenter.org.