Painter Robert Henry often states that he continually searches for "the full range of what it is possible to express." Rooted at first in Brooklyn, NY where he was born and later studied with Ad Reinhardt and Kurt Seligman, Robert remained an influential art teacher at Brooklyn College for many years. Lured to Provincetown in the early '50s by Hans Hofmann, his strong sense of color and his creative tension are both influenced to this day by the three years Robert studied with Hofmann on Cape Cod and in Manhattan.
In tribute to his teacher, Bob often speaks of Hofmann's involvement "in the (generous) application of paint. That's never left me." And of Hofmann's involvement with "the idea of painting being a search." Bob adds: "I see the activity of painting as a search for meaning," not just a technique, not just the making of an object or the completion of a commodity.
"I never start with an idea, that comes afterwards," Robert says. He starts with an image and follows where it leads, painting with a hunting knife. And semi-dried paint. The knife scrapes and chops paint from his palette. The knife works the paint and that working reveals the resulting whole.
His figurative works are like short stories or one-act plays inscribed on the one lonely page of the canvas or paper at hand. Something has happened before, something may possibly happen next, but the narration has suddenly paused – giving time for us both to catch up and perhaps catch our breath. The stories are rooted in mystery and shadows. The figures are strangely happy, wondering, wandering. They are of the earth rooted and rootless – but hardly ruthless. They are consumed by daily life and its challenges. They relate to their environment or each other, not the viewer.
Such works are like dark dreams we lamely try to share in the morning's light with someone we love. We try to remember, try to explain, until the conversation stalls and we come up short. It remains after all just another dream... but it is ours.
Whether figurative or abstract, Robert's works are never still. There's a restlessness, a tension, an imbalacne within an ever-shifting world.
New York, New York
Now in her 94th year, Norma brings her unwavering eye and unsentimental point of view to the Sidetracks Art Gallery selection from her more than 50-year career in the field. Far ranging as her camera lens has been, she has seen and invites us to see anew her works from a global world-view.
Holt's professional name first made as a photographer of children. Her ability to spend time with and enter each child's world gave the resulting works a unique personal cast. She progressed toward photography of their mothers and then on to documentary collections of women of all ages. Beginning with children and with women close at hand – New York, Long Island, Provincetown – her curious and roving eye led in multi-cultural directions – the US Southwest, Yucatan and Guatemala, Mali and central West Africa, Israel and Egypt, India and Japan, and beyond.
Within the last decade, time has led Norma to put the camera aside, but has not distanced her from photography. Her decades long project of photographing the artists of Provincetown has led to the publication of On Equal Ground, with over 100 of those portraits included, by the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
Her labor of love in photographing the Portuguese women of Provincetown – the mothers, wives, widows, sisters and daughters of local fisherman – is on display today at the far end of the Provincetown pier. Strong close-up images of four of these women still look out to sea – waiting.
In summing up her career, the artist states, "For me, the beauty of life subsists in the simple dignity of being human and living fully and fairly.
Art and nature, coupled with education, are her passions. Nature has long served as her personal metaphor for cycles of life lived and for relationships between and among people known.
Reflecting on her own art, Betty states, "My beginnings are always with nature. Sometimes the work flows from the unconscious; at other times my interpretation is more literal. My work is frequently intimate in size. I am interested in drawing the viewer into my work, as through reading a book, or holding something in one's hand and examining it closely. The space between the work and the viewer can be a private world."
She earned a Masters of Art degree in painting at New York University. In 2007-2008, she has been awarded fellowships by the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and by Byrdcliffe Arts Colony in Woodstock, New York, and has been included in exhibitions at Lafayette College, The Hunterdon Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Sketch Club, New York's Viridian Gallery. Mixed Media in Doylestown and at Sidetracks Art Gallery – all while continuing to teach advanced-level art.
ARTISTS PAGE 4