Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester
Custer, Crazy Horse and The River of Electricity: A Painter's Response to Poetry
An unusual exhibition opening April 7, 2000 at the Memorial Art Gallery pays tribute to the kinship between painter and poet. Titled "Custer, Crazy Horse and The River of Electricity: A Painter's Response to Poetry," the exhibition showcases 22 paintings by California artist Deloss McGraw in response to unpublished works by poet William Heyen.
is one of the few contemporary artists whose work is immersed in literature.
Best known for his collaboration with poet W.D. Snodgrass, McGraw's painted
explorations of the written word also include such writers as Mary Shelley,
Emily Dickinson, William Blake and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. (left:
Deloss McGraw, Custer, Crazy Horse and the River of Electricity: A Character
Study, gouache on paper, Courtesy of the artist)
MAG's exhibition, which remains on view through June 25, 2000 is the latest of several collaborations between McGraw and Heyen, professor of English and poet in residence at SUNY Brockport.
"I'd heard about Deloss McGraw before," says William Heyen, "heard about this artist who loved poetry and painted it." But it wasn't until ten or twelve years ago that Heyen actually encountered McGraw's work in the home of his friend and publisher, the late Al Poulin. Impressed with the artist's "vibrancy of color and depth of humor," Heyen sent him several of his books.
One of McGraw's paintings graced the cover of "Pig Notes & Dumb Music," published by Poulin's BOA Editions in 1998. Then came "Crazy Horse in Stillness," another BOA edition. "When Del saw this, and saw another so-far unpublished collection of poems about Custer and Crazy Horse, the kindling in him caught fire," says Heyen. "Thus the exhibition."
Both men are long-time friends of MAG director Grant Holcomb. In the early 1980s, McGraw was a professor at the University of San Diego when Holcomb was chief curator at the San Diego Museum of Art. And Holcomb, who has a particular interest in contemporary poetry, is working with Heyen and other poets on a projected anthology titled "Writers & Art." (left: Deloss McGraw, Rosebud, gouache on paper, Courtesy of the artist)
"For me," says Holcomb, "this exhibition brings back fond memories of many conversations with Del in San Diego and Bill in Rochester about the keen interaction between painting and poetry."
"Custer, Crazy Horse and The River of Electricity:
A Painter's Response to Poetry" is dedicated to the memory of A. Poulin
Jr. and made possible by Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Hursh.
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