From chocolate molds to military honors to teddy bears, they brought the possessions they most treasure. The residents of West Cambridge sat for portraits by artist Michael Oatman, and 23 of the resulting 10-minute video portraits make up The Cantabrigians, Oatmans installation at the West Cambridge Youth and Community Center. An opening reception is planned for Sept. 25, 6-8 p.m.
The installation, set up like an altarpiece with one large vertical monitor flanked by two slightly smaller ones, offers the over-the-back-fence familiarity of seeing neighbors with their favorite things, set against a local videotaped backdrop suggested by the sitters. While Oatmans sitters remain relatively still, life often goes on behind them -- an absorbing and, at times, comic effect. The sun swiftly sets behind former Cambridge mayor Sheila Doyle Russell. A man in an apron stocks the shelves of Formaggio Kitchen behind cookbook authors Marilynn and Sheila Brass. We spoke to a few of Oatmans subjects about what they'd brought to pose with.
— Cate McQuaid, Globe Correspondent