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Fine Arts: Paintings by William B. Hogan on display at Pennswood Art Gallery

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Wed, 27 Oct 2021 04:30:00

Are you in the mood for something a little different these days? Fine art, but with an imaginative twist? Something surreal? Something to jump start your own imagination? If so, you’ll find your consciousness shifting to high alert as soon as you step into the art gallery at Pennswood Village in Newtown, Pennsylvania, where artist William B. Hogan is exhibiting a collection of his latest paintings.

Hogan says his usual practice, going back as far as the 1970s, has always been to make sketches for all his work. “With these paintings,” he says “I started directly on the surface without a sketch first with an under painting of many colors and then spontaneously drew many images as fast as I could with pen and ink. Totally different from previous paintings. I was so inspired.”

It was then, he says, he took those painted surfaces to his easel and began the process of structure, composition, and design, especially looking for rhythms of color to tie it all together.

“To tell the truth, I don’t know why I came to this process. It was spontaneous though. Maybe it was COVID-19 quarantine that took me to the next level, pushing the envelope.”

Hogan’s art background stretches back to when he was in sixth grade and won a competition for the cover of a Christmas pageant program. It continues to his graduation from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, two years in the military where he won a U.S. Army world-wide art contest award, to earning a MFA in painting from the University of the Americas in Mexico City, teaching arts and crafts at junior high school in New Mexico, and landing at The Record newspaper in Hackensack, NJ. For years he worked there as an illustrator and cartoonist publishing more than 7,000 illustrations and cartoons.

It’s difficult to try to pin down the exact words to describe Hogan’s paintings. A good way to begin your visit to this exhibition might be to stand in the center of the gallery and slowly let your eyes travel from one painting to the next and the next. Then ask yourself what you notice first. I suspect it might be color, then rhythm. Then slowly, individual shapes begin to emerge and grab your attention. You start to see roads and buildings, trees, plants and people. There are animals and automobiles, tumbling cups and oozing paint tubes, birds, balls and unidentified flying objects.

It would be good at this point to move to each individual painting where composition and purposeful color placement unify and bring all the varied figures, shapes and objects into their rightful places.

You might then ask if the paintings tell a story. A glance at the title may give you a hint as to what Hogan was thinking as he painted or completed the piece, but he says he prefers us to bring our own life experience to our viewing of his work.

It’s interesting to note, however, that certain elements appear repeatedly in a majority of his works. There are often buildings, tilted and leaning in storybook fashion. Musical instruments are presented in rhythmic shapes. And there are almost always curving roadways and climbing mountains, bending trees and floating, turning, dancing figures.

And on occasion, the artist himself appears as in “Me, My Brush and I.” In this, Hogan presents a realistic image of himself holding his favorite brush as he stands before a background comprised of realistic cows and surreal figures, the ubiquitous curving roadway and steps climbing the side of a vast hill to a ghost-like house at its top.

The same curving road appears in “On The Road” but, curiously, the center of attention is down at the bottom of the picture plane where white-nailed toes of a foot are protruding from the torn tip of a large worn shoe suggesting it is in fast pursuit of a smaller running figure whose closest foot is also shod in a large worn shoe.

You can hear Hogan discuss this painting, and others in the show, in a video interview at https://pennswood.org/art-gallery/.

This exhibit joins Hogan’s one-man exhibitions and multiple juried exhibitions in many states. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Newark Museum and the Billie Ireland Museum of Cartoon Art at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

IF YOU GO:

  • WHAT: “Sense and Nonsense” paintings by William B. Hogan
  • WHERE: Pennswood Art Gallery, Pennswood Village, 1383 Newtown-Langhorne Road, Newtown, Pennsylvania
  • WHEN: Through November 7. Hours: Daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Masks Required.
  • CONTACT: 215-968-9110, whoganb@aol.com.

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