Bo Bartlett’s Heartland

The Frye Art Museum has a show of paintings by Bo Bartlett, “Heartland” (until March 21, 2004). I had half an hour with them today — not enough, so I hope I’ll be able to return for more.

Even short exposures made strong impressions on me, but none stronger than Leviathan, a depiction of Jonah‘s extraction from a whale. (These are large works. See this photo of Leviathan in Bartlett’s studio.)

The Frye exhibition brochure groups Bartlett with Thomas Eakins, Thomas Hart Benton, and Andrew Wyeth. I am usually more comfortable with abstract art, but these figurative portraits felt instantly powerful.

Some of them are gaunt, normal “Norman Rockwell” images while others remind me of my old, late friend, Balthus.


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