by Marjorie Harth, Director, Montgomery Gallery
Pomona College, Claremont, California
It is sometimes said that all art is self portrait. Although JAMES HUETER's Visages/Faces are not portraits in the literal sense - of himself or anyone else - they do say a great deal about an artist who is an meticulous, intense, disciplined and many-layered as the art he creates.
I have been privileged to know Jim Hueter for nearly twenty years and I still clearly recall our first meeting, a studio visit that all beginning art students should experience. Here was an artist whose life and art were of a piece, whose commitment to the discipline of art as classically understood - with its emphasis on drawing, craftsmanship, hard work and absolute truth to nature and to one's own vision - was complete. I recall Jim's describing the self-imposed assignment in which he was then engaged - to draw from nature every day for a year, with a goal of 1000 drawings. As impresssive to me as the discipline this represented was how unremarkable he made it sound. This was, his tone suggested, what artists do.
Jim Hueter continues to work in this way - determinedly probing a subject for what it can reveal, for what he can learn from it. The works in this exhibition - Visages/Faces, as they are collectively known - are part of an extensive series of explorations in drawing, sculpture and mixed-media "painting/sculpture" that began forty years ago with a large-scale pencil drawing of a face. That he has devoted himself for so many years to a single theme and that he has done so without repetition and in works of ever-evolving richness and complexity, reflects his remarkable creative energy as well as the richness of the human face as the subject of art. Painstakingly carved, painted and constructed of wood, paint, glass and mirrors, the Visages/Faces are architectonic, abstracting facial structure to an essential geometry. Within opaque surface planes of color, we are drawn as if by magnetic attraction to probe the vertical crevice that centers each composition. Layers of glass, angled mirrors and, occasionally, real and painted objects, lead us into depths that are visually and conceptually mysterious and that reflect us back upon ourselves, much in the way that we can become lost and see ourselves in the eyes of others. Complex and richly varied, the works seen here range from seemingly abstract formulations of line, form and color, as in the stunning Blue Verticals, to iconic images in which recognizable eyes meet our gaze. There seems to be no limit to the variations Hueter brings to, and finds within, his theme and each formal incarnation carries a distinct and suggestive aura of its own.
The respect for classical values - control, restraint, measure - that distinguish JAMES HUETER the artist, are equally apparent in his art. What is remarkable is the degree to which these are balanced with the evocative and suggestive, with random and uncontrollable effect. And as in the best of classical art, his work is, at once, personal and universal, revealing the artist and reflecting us all.
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