WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Harrison Gallery will feature the work of New England artists Hale Johnson and Don Wilks through April. Johnson’s rural landscapes in oil and Wilks’ bronze figures will be on display from Saturday, April 6 through Tuesday, April 30.
Hale Johnson was originally from New Jersey, but has lived in rural Western Massachusetts for over 30 years. He attended the Lafayette College and Newark School of Fine Art and has had over 55 solo exhibitions nationwide. He is most noted for his stark yet emotive landscapes of iconic New England.
His works, done on canvas or panel, are completed from onsite studies, and he intentionally seeks locations that evoke strong responses to the history of the land and the people who toil there.
With a focus on texture - particularly that of old paint, peeled woods, rugged grasses, and craggy rocks - each composition balances tight precision with areas of loosely brushed strokes, relieving the eye, providing relational distances, and allowing Hale to control focus. This technique has developed over the course of his career.
"I just simply can’t sit and paint a vase of flowers for two hours," he said. "It just doesn’t interest me." He admires the historic structures in New England because they are "set right to the land," he said. These depictions of architecture and working tools speak to the human struggle for survival in
Johnson is a member of the American Artists Professional League, the Academic Artist’s Association, the Grumbacher Award, the Copley Society, the Berkshire Art Association and the Salmagundi Club.
Don Wilks’ sculptures are known for their beauty, elasticity, and exciting spirit of the human body. He has been a resident of Martha’s Vineyard for 28 years, working in wire, wax, welding metals and now clay.
During 1965, Wilks began sculpting under the guidance of Peter Pacquette, who taught a variety of mediums, and later studied with Frank Eliscu, a world-renown sculptor, who in 1935 designed the Heisman Trophy. Wilks attended Boston’s Museum Of Fine Arts school, and in 2000 worked under the inspirational guidance of New England artist Pablo Eduardo.
In addition to portraying the traditional ballerina, Wilks captures the angularity of thrust limbs inspired by Cirque du Soleil’s acrobatic dancers. His bronze work is cast at the Bronzart foundry in Sarasota, Fla. The cast editions are limited to quantities of 7 to 12, to assure that the detail of each piece is properly rendered.
"I have always been intrigued by the beauty, flow and elasticity of the human body," Wilks said. "To see a figure bend, stretch, pull, and twist is a true wonder of nature that has always stimulated my imagination. For me, the action and interaction of the body is the primary force that I try to convey. To achieve this I am continually working on my techniques and knowledge of the anatomy, body motion, and fluidity."
Wilks currently is exhibiting his work in fine art galleries in Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Boston and Vero Beach, Florida. He is a member of the prestigious National Sculpture Society.
For more information about upcoming shows at the Harrison Gallery: theharrisongallery.com.