In conjunction with the 175th anniversary celebration of the founding of Hollins University, this exhibition presents eleven studies for the oil painting by Ron Boehmer, Tinker Creek. Commissioned in 1990, the painting has been on view in Main Building on Hollins' campus since 1991. The studies donated by the artist to the University, and now part of the permanent collection of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, are being displayed for the first time. Each a beautiful work of art, these studies show the artist's working method and include graphite and ink sketches, ink wash, and oil pastel studies. They will be exhibited alongside the finished painting. Lynchburg-based artist Ron Boehmer is co-founder of Beverly Street Studio School in Staunton, Virginia, where he teaches drawing and painting classes and workshops, specializing in plein air painting.
In May 2016, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University was the recipient of a a gift from the Blair family: a collection of over 385 preliminary paintings, drawings, and prints by Jean Hélion (French, 1904-1987). This gift (the largest in the history of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum) is an important collection of studies by one of France’s noted modernists. French by birth, Hélion married an American from Virginia and spent time living and working in the United States. He lived with his wife in Virginia from 1936-1940 and returned during WW II to work in New York City. This exhibition will present selections from this generous gift, most of which has never been exhibited to the public. This collection makes Hollins University a major repository for Hélion studies.
Inspired by the organization, rhythm, and patterns that would come to characterize his abstract paintings, Hélion’s early interests included poetry, chemistry, and architecture. In the mid-1920s, he abandoned his studies in favor of drawing classes at the Académie Adler in Paris. Over the next several years, he met and drew inspiration from abstract and cubist artists including Otto Freundlich, Joaquin Torres-Garcia, and Piet Mondrian. In 1936, Hélion moved from France to the United States. Living in New York and Virginia for four years before returning to France, Hélion deliberately changed his style to be more representative.After World War II, Hélion’s career grew to include radio and lecture appearances as well as a best-selling book about his months as a prisoner of war. Even as his later painterly interests became figurative and naturalistic, his work relied on shape and repetition in the same manner as his abstractions.