Hilton Head Island, SC
May 4-June 30
There is an eloquent, simple beauty to be found in Dan Gerhartz’s landscape and figurative paintings. Yet the profound qualities of light and color that radiate from the canvas evoke a sense of wonderment about the complex splendor of our world. “Everything I do is initially inspired by simple design and fascination with light as it falls on form,” the artist says.
Gerhartz’s attraction to design, light, and form is exquisitely expressed in a body of work on display this month at Morris & Whiteside Galleries in Hilton Head Island, SC. The show opens with an artist’s reception on May 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. and runs through June. Featuring about a dozen new paintings, this is the first show introducing the public to the fact that Morris & Whiteside Galleries now represents Gerhartz. “I couldn’t be more excited,” says gallery co-owner Ben Whiteside. “Our goal is to represent who we feel are the top American living painters, and Dan Gerhartz embodies this ideal.”
Gerhartz is known for his mastery of the female figure and often paints his subjects in quiet repose, meditation, or contemplative isolation. His subjects are frequently drawn from his home and community in Wisconsin, including family and friends. The artist’s emotional and physical closeness with his subjects conveys a sense of intimacy and honesty in his paintings that is compelling and comforting to the viewer.
However, Gerhartz stresses that he is concerned less with specific subject matter and more with good design in general. “The subject matter is secondary. What inspires me is the composition—the interplay of color and light that dances in your eyes and resonates in your soul,” he says. Indeed, there is a soulful, spiritual quality to his work that is unmistakable.
Growing up in Kewaskum, WI, where he now lives with his wife and children, Gerhartz began exploring the world of art at a young age. Studies at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, IL, led to a brief stint in commercial art as a graphic designer. Soon, however, he had a chance encounter with renowned artist Richard Schmid, who quickly became a mentor and inspiration to Gerhartz. “He was an absolute godsend,” Gerhartz says. It was his relationship with Schmid, combined with an intense appreciation for masters such as John Singer Sargent, that catapulted Gerhartz into a full-time career as a fine artist.
His latest work continues his quest to achieve “something deeper” through art. The landscape WHERE SEA MEETS SKY is a provocative new piece that stands out from his predominately figurative work. The painting is “somewhat indicative of our human experience,” Gerhartz says, and is meant to evoke a sense of mysteriousness as well as hope. In the painting, as is often the case in life, “We don’t know where the light is going or where the horizon is, but just knowing there is light gives hope.”
Ultimately, the artist wants viewers of his work to feel “drawn to the creator.” For Gerhartz, God is the “master artist” working through him to convey a message of love. Put simply, he says, he wants viewers “to feel hope.” —Lindsay Mitchell
Featured in May 2012.