A visit with Dan Gerhartz at his studio in Kewaskum, WI
Text by Bonnie Gangelhoff, Photos by Dan Bishop
This story was featured in the April 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art April 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art April 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
Describe your studio. The studio is north lit, spacious, and visually appealing. I designed it with the help of Richard Schmid, and it was built in 1995.
When you designed your studio, what were the key things you wanted to incorporate? I wanted to have north light falling on my easel from above with room enough to back up from it, other windows for other lighting conditions, and track lighting for works on the wall. I wanted room for crate storage, frame-stock storage, and supplies, plus workshop space, a double door for moving large canvases out, and a false wall that works with the model stand to set up environments.
What do you like about living in Kewaskum? I grew up here. My family and my wife’s family are here, and we’re raising our children here. Our roots are deeply embedded in this place. Plus, we have a great coffee shop. In the landscape surrounding my studio there are rolling hills, forested areas, rural farms, lakes, and streams. It’s a beautiful environment with interesting diversity with the seasonal changes.
Do your physical surroundings influence your work? Yes. The quality of light is the greatest influence, and from it flows the excitement of a color harmony in nature. The natural world and its harmonies and rhythms are a constant source of inspiration.
What do you like to keep in your studio? I have a large collection of art books that I use for inspiration and reference. I have reproductions of some of my favorite works by master artists pinned to the walls. And I have my collection of props and fabrics and music.
Tell us more about those props. I keep fabric for draping, either as a costume or a background element, with a variety of colors and textures. And then I have antique furniture, coffee tins, vases, a humidor, and various glass, copper, brass, and silver objects—anything that I feel has an intriguing color or shape that catches my eye.
What master artists’ works do you have pinned to the walls? Antonio Mancini, Alphonse Mucha, Solomon J. Solomon, Daniel Chester French, Edward Steichen, John William Waterhouse, Abram Arkhipov, Nicolai Fechin, James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Michelangelo, Adolphe William Bouguereau, Jules Bastien-Lepage, Richard Schmid, Joaquin Sorolla, and Maxfield Parrish. They have all influenced me. When their paintings work, it looks like air and light, not paint, on canvas.
What contemporary, living artists’ works do you keep in your studio? Works by Scott Burdick, Tim Cherry, Scott Christensen, Mark Daily, Jimmy Dyer, Rose Frantzen, Steve Gerhartz, Nancy Guzik, Tony Hochstetler, Bill Hosner, Steve Kestrel, Richard Loffler, Grant Redden, Laura Robb, Richard Schmid, Sandy Scott, Shirley Thomson-Smith, and Eric Wiegardt.
What impresses you about other artists’ works? Their ability to capture light.
What subject matter are you drawn to? I most enjoy painting the figure in natural light, whether that is in the studio or in the open air. The human figure is beautiful, and I find it to be infinitely challenging. And the opportunity to work with some models over a period of many years adds a relational element.
Do you listen to music in your studio? I primarily play classical music in the studio. I enjoy music that I feel captures a sense of yearning. I believe it is because our yearning in this life for something greater reflects our desire for God. That yearning connects me to my source of inspiration in Him.
If your studio were on fire, what is the one thing you would save? I would save anyone who was in there with me and then paintings for any upcoming shows.
What is your proudest moment in terms of your art career? I’ve felt very honored when I have received awards at various art shows, and I am very honored when people buy my work. But I think my proudest moments are when someone tells me that my work has moved them deeply. That is really what I am shooting for—to communicate from my soul to another’s.
What is one place people will never find you? At a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant.
When you are not painting, what do you like to do? I like to spend time with my wife and children, going hiking, dining out, gardening, hunting with my boys, and watching the kids in their sporting and music events.
When people visit, where do you like to take them? I like to take them to the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend to see the Carl von Marr collection.
Meyer Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Morris & Whiteside Galleries, Hilton Head, SC; Grapevine Gallery, Oklahoma City, OK; Cutter & Cutter Fine Art Galleries, St. Augustine, FL; InSight Gallery, Fredericksburg, TX; Gallery Aspen, Tokyo, Japan; www.danielgerhartz.com.
Featured in the April 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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