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Harold Gregor's Illinois

July 29 - October 29, 2006

 

As familiar as the people of Illinois are with the its landscape, its farmland with barns, silos and corn and soybean fields, they may have overlooked its true beauty, its character and its strength. Artist Harold Gregor's love of this simple terrain lies at the heart of his majestic paintings of the American Midwest, urging viewers to recognize its wonder and power.

Considered by many to be the dean of contemporary American landscape painting, Gregor is featured in a major retrospective exhibition at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts. Presented in the Mitchell Museum's Main Gallery. Harold Gregor's Illinois includes 35 major paintings from every aspect of Gregor's distinguished career and reveal the artist's dedication and vision that have made him the great landscapist of his generation.

Based in Bloomington, Illinois, and professor emeritus at Illinois State University, Gregor has trained countless artists as he set the standard for representing the broad panoramas of the Midwest. Harold Gregor's Illinois will be the defining retrospective of this important artist's career.

Originally from Detroit, Gregor is best known for his Flatscapes, aerial views of the Illinois landscape that transform well-ordered farms into almost abstract arrangements of color. He has also produced large bodies of panoramic landscapes and photo-realist paintings of central Illinois corncribs. The large works in Gregor's Trail Series feature swirling brushwork that expresses the labyrinthine nature of a path through a dense wood.

While developing these landscape themes, Gregor has explored endless variations and experimented tirelessly in developing new ways to conjure the beauty and bounty of the Illinois landscape.

The book Harold Gregor's Illinois accompanies the exhibition and documents the landmark retrospective devoted to of one of this state's most important artists. Published by Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, the beautifully illustrated catalogue commemorates this exhibition and is available for purchase in the museum's gift shop. Major support for the publication has been provided by Richard Grey Gallery, Chicago; Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe and Dallas; and The Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation. Keith and Nita Kattner have underwritten the project. (right: Harold Gregor's Illinois catalogue cover)

The exhibition, which continues through October 29, 2006 is sponsored by St. Mary's Good Samaritan, Inc. and cosponsored by Fifth Third Bank. Support for this program has been provided, in part, by the Schweinfurth Foundation. An activity of the John R. and Eleanor R. Mitchell Foundation. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

 

Wall labels for paintings in the exhibition:

 

HAROLD GREGOR: TWO DECADES OF ON-SITE PAINTING
 
Painting on-site has long been the domain of the watercolorist. It was particularly so in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, prior to the invention of a portable camera. The camera usurped the documentary role watercolor played, and in the latter half of the 19th century the introduction of oil paint in tubes made oil painting the preferred medium for on-site painting. Landscape, the dominant subject for European and American painters in the 19th century, gave way in the 20th century to Cubism, Fauvism and a host of other "isms," none of which were rooted in on-site documentation. Nonetheless, painters, no matter what their preferred medium and idiom, have always found delight and inspiration in on-site painting.
 
At various times in my career I have returned to on-site painting as a means to refresh my eye, expand my skills and explore new directions. In 1960, after completing graduate school, I spent an entire summer in the Canadian north woods doing nothing but watercolors. Later in the sixties when I taught in California, I tried on-site painting. When I moved to Illinois in 1970, my California on-site experience led to my interest in landscape painting as a dominant artistic concern.
 
On-site watercolor painting has always given me more than the pleasure of discovering or documenting a new location. After I settle into a site I try to "follow the brush" and let the watercolor do it for me. With this approach, results are not guaranteed and frequently are disappointing, but occasionally something new, delightful and unexpected happens.
 
I have traveled and painted at many locations in the U.S. and in Europe. The works displayed here were all done on-site between 1984 and 2005.
 
- Harold Gregor
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Borghese Garden II, Rome, Italy, 1984
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Line of Palms, Deia, Majorca, 1994
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Sunset I, Saugatuck, Michigan, 1984
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
I taught a painting workshop at the Ox-Box School of Art in Saugatuck, Michigan. The sunsets were overwhelming so I decided to challenge myself to see if I could capture the grandeur of this natural display. I was aware that sunsets are so dramatic that they seem to be readymade art. Of all the sunset paintings I tried, this one seemed to come closest to embracing the theatrical energy and color shifting excitement that a sunset inspires.
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Colorado Hills, Florissant, Colorado, 1987
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
Western Colorado offers an unusual combination of dark green foliage nestled besides huge boulders that emerge from rugged, undulating, sand-colored hills. This combination of texture and colors I found to be very difficult to approximate. I think this painting may have come close.
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Fall Splendor, Johnson, Vermont, 1992
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
I was invited to the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont to teach during the month of September when the colors were most radiant. I tried to match the color energy that charged the entire setting. Enlarged version of this painting and other similar ones eventually led to a whole new approach for me.
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Olive Trees, Spanish Highway, Spain, 1994
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
The Spanish island of Majorca in the Balearic Islands in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea is probably the most beautiful place I have visited. We stayed at the La Residencia Hotel, a lovely mountainside resort on the outskirts of Deia, a town noted for its artistic community. Gardens, citrus, palms, olive trees and plants of every kind offered a bewildering array of challenging subjects.
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Date Palms, Bahamas, 1995
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
In the Bahamas the obvious subject to paint seemed to be the palm trees, cacti and tropical plants that confronted me at every turn. I yielded to temptation and tried to paint this too-often chosen subject. This painting seemed to offer an unexpected freshness reminiscent of the way the overbearing sunshine reveals the fiercely competitive plants.
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Cardrick House, Churchstow Devon County, England, 1995
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
We visited some friends who lived in a rehabilitated 16th century English manor house in southern England. Since the garden was spectacular, I featured it more than the house.
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Spring Willows, Bloomington/Normal, Illinois, 1995
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Light That Smiles, Bloomington/Normal, Illinois, 1996
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
False Spring, Bloomington/Normal, Illinois, 1996
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Path: Hyde Farm, near Springfield, Missouri, 2003
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Citadel Rock (Early Evening), Missouri Breaks, Montana, 1997
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
Colleague Ken Holder led a group on a raft trip up the Missouri River to camp and paint at the actual sites in Montana where Lewis and Clark encamped in 1804. This site, The White Cliffs, is still virtually undisturbed because no roads lead to it. This painting was done rapidly because the late setting sun quickly revised the shadows.
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Serpentine Wall, Collidi, Tuscany, Italy, 1998
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Iron Gate, Collodi Garden, Collodi, Tuscany, Italy, 1999
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Cloudy Ozark Day, near Springfield, Missouri, 2003
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
Jan Hyde, owner of the Walnut street Gallery and member of the Springfield Museum of Art Board, offers some of her gallery artists the opportunity to stay in a farmhouse that she and her husband own on their 800-acre farm, just southeast of Springfield. It is an exciting place to do on-site painting. Sharp edge foothills dotted with cows slide into round hills decorated with horses, clumps of oaks and bright green grass. There is a worthwhile view in every direction. I selected three of my paintings to suggest the scenic diversity offered by Jan Hyde's farm.
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
A La Dufy: Sestri Levante, Sestri Levante, Liguria, Italy, 2004
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Dark Stairway: Sestri Levante, Sestri Levante, Liguria, Italy, 2005
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Westin Pool, Maui, Hawaii, 2005
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist
 
A visit to Maui offered an array of inspiring views, particularly the tropical plants and flowers. But these seemed too accessible, too obvious, so I searched for something characteristic of the scene, but seldom approached. The hotel swimming pool which featured lava rocks, waterfalls, and potted plants, attracted me because it seemed to offer a truth about Maui. Maui, although beautiful, is now largely a man-made vacation paradise.
 
 
HAROLD GREGOR
 
Bike Path: December, Bloomington, Illinois, 2005
Watercolor on paper
Courtesy of the Artist

Artist's statement:

 

NEITHER ABOVE YOU, NOR BELOW YOU - ALWAYS WITH YOU
 
Harold Gregor
Bloomington, Illinois
 
When I think back to my childhood in Depression-era Detroit, I am amazed by the range of artistic styles that emerged during my own lifetime. Many of these styles I experienced, tried to understand, emulated, and finally in my own art, either incorporated or rejected.
 
At the outset my teachers were Social Realist artists, who supported the idea that art could make a political, social, and even spiritual difference. They believed that the artist's role was to examine the social conditions of their own epoch with a critical eye toward change. Consequently, I became imbued with the same sense of artistic social responsibility, accepting the premise that an artist's task was to point out and offer correctives to social ills.
 
The belief that art can make a difference is still ingrained in me today. I hope that my positive portrayal of the Illinois landscape contributes to a greater love and understanding of the prairie's bountiful virtues and complexities. All paintings have a political component, and to that extent, I wish that my efforts might promote an awareness of our place in the larger harmonic natural order. We are part of nature and nature is part of us. Perhaps my paintings can serve as a reminder of this.
 
In the late 1950s while studying for my Ph.D. in painting at Ohio State University, I thoroughly embraced Abstract Expressionism. After completing my dissertation in 1960, I took a teaching job in southern California and devoted myself to gesturally-derived pictorial order and color composition. But even in the early 1960s, abstract painting was beginning to fade from the vanguard, and it had always seemed more like something I had learned than something I felt deeply. During my decade in California, to a greater or lesser degree, I explored most of the dominant styles of the 1960s ­ geometric abstraction, pop art, minimalism, and conceptual art ­ but I never felt beholden to any of them. As the decade closed, I began to make landscape paintings.
 
In 1970, I was offered a teaching position at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal. My attempts at painting the California landscape prepared me to see the seemingly infinite farm country of Illinois as a source of inspiration. I began to paint close-up, views of corncribs, a form of vernacular farm architecture that was new to me. A year later, some of my corncrib paintings were shown in New York at the O.K. Harris Gallery, and I came to be counted among the first wave of American Photorealists. My rural subject matter distinguished me from most of the other Photorealists, but of greater importance to me, I felt I had found a subject and a mode of expression that was my own. I have been inspired by the Heartland landscape ever since.
 
I try not to stray far from my sources. I hope that my panorama paintings are suggestive of the way most of us experience the prairie farm scene. My aerial Flatscapes harmonize color-formed pictorial space with realistic but color-modified land patterns, while my Trail Series paintings are meant to express and actualize the experiences felt when enjoying our local walking trail. All of these approaches derive from my observations when driving by, flying over, or walking through the prairie landscape. I do not see the approaches as conflicting or denying one another, but as mutually reinforcing explorations, each expressing an important aspect of the region in which I live.
 
Two years ago while climbing a cliff trail in Italy, I fell and broke my right wrist. With my arm in a cast for what I felt was a very long time, I painted with my left hand. The more I practiced, the more the paintings began to offer what seemed to be a synthesis of my previous styles. When the cast came off, I began to produce right-handed versions of the left-handed paintings. I am not certain where this will lead, but I am very excited by my new Vibrascapes. I intend to pursue this direction as far as it will go, but will continue painting panoramas, Flatscapes, and trail pictures too.
 
For whatever success I can claim as an artist, I am indebted to many individuals for their encouragement. Several of these people have passed away, but I would like to thank them anyway. My professor, Hoyt Sherman at Ohio State, gave me "art eyes" and opened for me a still expanding world of aesthetic delight. In California, Bill Bowen encouraged and mentored me as an artist and teacher. Chicago art dealer Nancy Lurie showed my early works in her gallery, helping launch my career. In New York, Tibor de Nagy showed my work for seventeen years and I owe much of my success to his support. I cannot omit Detroit surrealist Hughie Lee Smith who was the first "real" artist I knew. Sadly these folks who encouraged my artistic aspirations, are no longer with us, but I remain grateful to them all.
 
In 1921, my father, a steamfitter and engineer, emigrated from Scotland to Detroit where he began working production for the Ford Motor Company. Within a year he saved enough money to bring my mother to Detroit and they were married the day she arrived. I was always impressed by the daring and risk this story entails. On the voyage to America my mother traveled in steerage and struck a friendship with a couple who recently graduated from the Royal College of Art in London. They both prospered as commercial artists in Detroit and I owe much to Nell and Laurence Andrews for showing me what an artist can be and do. Laurence was my godfather.
 
I have an identical twin brother, Norman, who died in 1979. He, too, was blessed with artistic strengths, pursuing a career as an architectural designer. We were close and I owe much to his understanding and support. My older brother Bob was a successful ceramic engineer and businessman whose achievements and civic contributions I admire very much. As we have grown older, we have become mutually proud of the other's accomplishments.
 
Unquestionably, the person who has offered me the most support on every level has been my wife Marlene. She manages countless details each day, keeping up with my communications, arranging our travels, and taking care of the myriad intrusive details that would take me away from the work I love. Marlene handles these matters efficiently and gracefully, and there is not a painting or watercolor I have produced in the last quarter century that has not benefited from her management of our household and my studio. I thank her profusely for all she has done for me.
 
My two daughters, Kathy and Matissa, despite experiencing travail in their lives, have both forged rich and satisfying lives. I have learned much from both of them, and I am as proud of their achievements as they are of mine. They have also blessed me with grandchildren, who have opened a whole new dimension of delight for me.
 
To Richard Gray and Paul Gray of the Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago I extend my deepest thanks for representing my work so expertly these past twenty years. Many career moments came about because of their efforts and promotions. I also offer my thanks to Gerald Peters and Gayle Maxon-Edgerton of the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe. Their representation has been generous and supportive, not only in New Mexico, but in Dallas, where Ashley Tatum Casson has arranged my shows so skillfully. I also would like to thank Katharina Rich Perlow, my energetic and thoroughly connected New York dealer, and Tory Folliard, who handles my work in Milwaukee, for their continued support. There have been many other friends, colleagues, students and collectors too numerous to list here, who have enriched my life and contributed to my career, and I thank them all.
 
My relationship with the Mitchell Museum at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts has not been a long one, but it has been most satisfying. I exhibited my work there for the first time in 2004, and was impressed by the skill, dedication and professionalism of the staff, and by the hospitality of the people of Mt. Vernon, Illinois and surrounding communities. I would like to offer my thanks to all the staff, who have contributed to this project, but especially to executive director, Sharon Bradham, for her guidance of this marvelous institution, and to Kevin Sharp, director of visual arts, who did a superb job organizing the exhibition and writing the catalogue.
 
I may be risking banality, but I am sincere when I say how blessed I feel to lead a life that allows me to do what I enjoy most ­ teaching and painting. In my studio I display a copy of a Chinese proverb to remind me of how fortunate I am. Growing old is often accompanied by pain and unforeseen difficulties, but the proverb helps to remind me of the blessings I enjoy.
 
"What happiness to wake alive again into this same gray world of winter rain"
 


Introduction to the catalogue:

 

HAROLD GREGOR'S ILLINOIS
 
Sharon Bradham
Executive Director
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts
 
 
Cedarhurst Center for the Arts was introduced to Harold Gregor and his beautiful paintings of the Illinois landscape relatively late in our two respective histories. It was only in 2004 ­ after the artist and Cedarhurst had been hard at work in Illinois for more than three decades ­ that Harold's canvases were first shown here in an exhibition called Lucky 13: The Artists of Bloomington, Illinois. Through that project, we came to admire Harold's paintings, but we also learned of his profound influence on the thriving art scene in Bloomington, and his important place in the national conversation about contemporary American painting.
 
With Harold Gregor's Illinois, we are making up for lost time. Within weeks of closing the 2004 Bloomington show, Kevin Sharp, director of visual arts at Cedarhurst, approached Harold about the possibility of the museum organizing and hosting a retrospective of his career in Illinois. Harold agreed immediately, and he has been very helpful in securing loans for this show and providing the crucial information that informs this handsome catalogue. We are grateful to Harold and Marlene Gregor for all they have done to make this project a success and for becoming such supportive friends of Cedarhurst.
 
Exhibitions of this scope require contributions from many individuals. The trustees of Cedarhurst always lend wise counsel and authorize generous financial support to the projects we develop. I will take this opportunity to thank board members, Karen Bayer, Hunt Bonan, Bill Howard, Doug Kroeschen, Dennis McEnaney, Jane Rader, and Jim Sanger for their dedication and inspired leadership. Cedarhurst also benefits from a volunteer body of Administrative Counselors, who bring energy and commitment as well as financial support to the work we do. I offer the museum's appreciation to counselors, Cindy Addington, Barbara Beck, Robert L. Brown, Marian Erb, Norma Fairchild, Gino Federici, Toni Federici, Beverly Fisher, Cheryl Foley, Jack Goldman, Dell Hill, Linda Hoffman, Jeff Howard, Sheila Jones, Rick Kirkpatrick, Barbara Lawrence, David Lister, Beth McDonald, Carol Rudman, Kathy Sees, Kevin Settle, Norma Shreve, Christina Stables, Dee Stewart, Kathy Withers, and David Wood. Some of these board members and counselors also serve on the museum's visual arts committee, advising staff in the development of undertakings such as Harold Gregor's Illinois. To the list of individuals already mentioned, I extend Cedarhurst's gratitude to Frank Davidson, Florence Glass, Gene Hawkins, Annelies Heijnen, Cyndy Mitchell, Dorothy Moore, Jayne Setzkorn, Marejon Sue Shrode, Sue Stotlar, and Nivedita Trivedi, all of whom are among Cedarhurst's most ardent supporters.
 
Every staff member at Cedarhurst contributes to the success of every project we take on, and it is my pleasure to acknowledge their hard work at this time. I appreciate the efforts and the professionalism of David Adams, Sarah Lou Bicknell, Laura Chamness, Greg Hilliard, Liz Hinman, Manny Ortiz, Vonda Rister, Jennifer Sarver, Kevin Sharp, Linda Short, Shawn Taylor, Heath Tupper, Linda Wheeler, and Ralyn Woodrome. I am also grateful to Kathy Fredrickson, Cheryl Towler Weese, Renata Gokl, and Carolyn Heidrich at Studio Blue in Chicago for the design and production of this important book, and to Xxxx Xxxxx for editorial support.
 
The publication of Harold Gregor's Illinois would not have been possible without the financial support of a few key donors. To Jane and Richard A. Manoogian and the Manoogian Foundation, we offer our deepest thanks for their kind contribution to this catalogue. We also thank Jonathan Boos, curator of the Manoogian Collection, for his advocacy of our funding request. When we petitioned Harold's dealers, the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe and Dallas and the Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago, for financial assistance, both of these great organizations came forward instantly in support of the project. For their generous contributions, we extend our sincerest thanks to Gerald Peters, Gayle Maxon-Edgerton, and Ashley Tatum Casson of the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe and Dallas, and to Paul Gray and Richard Gray of the Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago. We would also like to thank Dr. Keith and Ms. Nita Kattner, good friends of Harold's and collectors of his work, who made a meaningful contribution to this catalogue.
 
Many individuals, institutions, and corporations have loaned paintings from their collections or have granted us permission to reproduce works of art they own. Cedarhurst thanks Heidi Becker; Gene and Terry Carr, Glenview, Illinois; Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago; John R. and Barbara Gregor, Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Katherine Gregor, Austin, Texas; Ron and Nancy Guthoff, Bloomington, Illinois; Sally Hewlett and Patrick Duke, Chicago; Dave and Pearle Jeffries; Nita and Keith Kattner, Bloomington, Illinois; Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; Rod Krueger, Fresno, California; Maddie Leiker, Austin, Texas; Matissa and Tim Leiker, Austin, Texas; Paul and Margaret Lurie; Robert and Judy Markowitz, Bloomington, Illinois; Monsanto, St. Louis; Northern Trust Company, Chicago; Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe and Dallas; Adeline Rose Gregor Poris, Austin, Texas; Southwestern Illinois College, Foundation Collection, Belleville; State of Illinois Library, Springfield; Terry Swanlund, Bloomington, Illinois; University Gallery, Illinois Sate University, Bloomington-Normal; David and Kathryn Vitek; and other private collectors who wish to remain anonymous.
 
Cedarhurst's presentation of Harold Gregor's Illinois is supported by St. Mary's Good Samaritan, Inc. in Mt. Vernon, and we extend to them our sincere thanks. Additional funding for the exhibition and catalogue is provided by the John R. and Eleanor R. Mitchell Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council, a stage agency.
 
By the time Harold Gregor's Illinois opens, Cedarhurst Center for the Arts will have announced a capital campaign and the eventual expansion of the Mitchell Museum. It seems only appropriate that our new friend, Harold Gregor, one of Illinois's most distinguished artists, would join our many longtime friends in helping us to inaugurate a new era in the history of Cedarhurst

 

Captions to plates in the catalogue

 

"Operating out of central Illinois, it is no surprise that a thinking artist might begin to concern himself with cornbut it is surprising that anyone could do such wonderful things with it."
 
- F. D. Cossitt, Richmond [Virginia] Times Dispatch, Sun, 1 April 1973
 
 
1. Illinois Flatscape #4, 1974
acrylic on canvas
60 x 66 inches
Collection of University Galleries of Illinois State University, Normal
 
"Where there is an image, people will usually pay more attention to that than to the color. That's why abstract expressionism dropped the image completely ­ to force people to pay attention to the color. In the flatscapes I'm trying to make both color and image equally important."
 
Harold Gregor, Chicago Tribune, 19 January 1977
 
 
2. Illinois Corn Crib #25, 1974
oil and acrylic on canvas
43 x 66 inches
Bank of America
 
"One group of his paintings represented a statuesque, barnlike structure ­ commonly called a corncrib ­ that is the rural Midwestern equivalent of the Gothic cathedral. Gregor adopts the corn crib as an image of strength and stark reality and sets it against the unrelenting pressure of flatness."
 
Duncan Pollock, Art in America, January-February 1974
 
 
3. Illinois Farmscape #7, 1975
oil and acrylic on canvas
15 x 18 _ inches
Matissa and Tim Leiker Collection, Austin, Texas
 
"A corncrib is not a barn. Barns are for animals, and they usually have silos attached ­ great big phallic symbols that suggest fertility and regeneration. Barns have been painted so often they've practically become an artistic cliché."
 
Harold Gregor, Chicago Tribune, 19 January 1977
 
 
4. Illinois Farmscape #18, 1976
oil and acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign
 
"One's initial reaction to Harold Gregor's paintingsis probably to slot them into the 'school' of Photorealism and judge them purely upon the artist's draughtsmanly, or perhaps one may say imitative, skills. To assume such a position vis-à-vis these works would be both to miss their very special qualities and to misperceive the artist's intention if those two issues can be taken as in any way independent."
 
Holland Cotter, New York Arts Journal, September-October 1978
 
 
5. Illinois Farmscape #23, 1976
oil and acrylic on canvas
15 x 18 _ inches
Maddie Leiker, Austin, Texas
 
"A number of people have told me that the ride from Bloomington to Chicago is much more enjoyable now that they've seen my corncribs. That's one of the most rewarding things about being a painter. You help people to see the world they're familiar with in different terms ­ to find beauty in the things around them."
 
Harold Gregor, Chicago Tribune, 19 January 1977
 
 
6. Illinois Farmscape #27, 1977
oil and acrylic on canvas
15 x 18 _ inches
Katherine Gregor, Austin, Texas
 
"I have tried to avoid sentimentality or any indication of yearning for pastoral virtues, wishing to picture defined qualities rather than cherished notions or points of view about our agricultural heritage."
 
Harold Gregor, Chicago Tribune Magazine, 8 January 1978
 
 
7. Illinois Landscape #23, 1977
oil and acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Paul and Margaret Lurie
 
"There's something about the farm country down thereI first saw it at the end of August [1970], when the light was highlighting all the natural colors. It was really knockout stuff, and I guess I'd reached the point in my development where I was ready to see it."
 
Harold Gregor, Chicago Tribune, 19 January 1977
 
 
8. Illinois Flatscape #16, 1981.
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Northern Trust Company, Chicago
 
"The details as well as the space of this terrain is [sic] rendered with the kind of photographic accuracy that acquires at times the quality of a vivid, postcard like hallucination."
 
Hilton Kramer, The New York Times, 6 May 1977
 
 
9. Illinois Flatscape #20, 1982
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
John R. and Barbara Gregor, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
 
"In his work the paint surface is a painterly surface which deals at every turn with questions of how the reality we conceive can be suggested by applying color to canvas. Although he employs an accessible subject matter, the impact of Gregor's work depends as much on this painterly intelligence as it does on acute observation."
 
Ann Lee Morgan, The New Art Examiner, January 1982
 
 
10. Illinois Flatscape #30, 1985
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Rod Krueger, Fresno, California
 
"A flatscape is not meant to be primarily a picture of a farm nor is it solely a color-formed space. Instead, it is meant to be both, and thus a new, more complex and dense kind of presentation. If I succeed, viewers should be able to enjoy the descriptive aspects of the work and the ordered color array simultaneously."
 
Harold Gregor, The Artist's Magazine, November 1986
 
 
11. Approaching Sugar Creek #8, 1989
oil and acrylic on paper
8 _ x 27 _ inches
Katherine Gregor, Austin, Texas
 
 
12. Approaching Rain #22, 1989
oil and acrylic on paper
8 _ x 27 _ inches
Matissa and Tim Leiker Collection, Austin, Texas
 
"I'm trying to get away from being a photorealist. I don't want to be dependent on that tradition now, and it really has become a tradition, a technical display."
 
Harold Gregor, Chicago Tribune, 15 December 1985
 
 
 
13. Illinois Flatscape #44, 1989
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Monsanto, St. Louis, Missouri
 
 
"The pieces he calls 'Flatscapes' also have their origin in photography insofar as they are based on pictures that Gregor himself takes while traveling over the country in a small plane. But the look of the resulting paintings are [sic] only obliquely photographic, imitating the hot blotchy color of altered Polaroids or computer-processed images."
 
Alan G. Artner, Chicago Tribune, 10 March 1988
 
 
14. Illinois Flatscape #47, 1989
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
 
"I save my flatscapes for summers, because it's so exhausting to work on the color concepts. It's not something you can just pick up here and there; you need long, uninterrupted periods."
 
Harold Gregor, U.S. Art, December 1989
 
 
15. Illinois Spring Morning, 1991
oil and acrylic on canvas
98 x 142 inches
State of Illinois Library, Springfield
 
 
16. Illinois Autumn Evening, 1990
oil and acrylic on canvas
98 x 142 inches
State of Illinois Library, Springfield
 
"He's an artist who's been able to take his adopted environmentand make it palpable, to make it compelling to people who, I think, otherwise might pass it by without giving it a serious thought."
 
Paul Gray, Bloomington Pantagraph, 11 June 1995
 
 
17. Illinois Flatscape #43, 1991
oil and acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches Sally Hewlett and Patrick Duke, Chicago
 
 
"Gregor heightens the strange aerial effects through vibrant color and often a pointillistic style. Even as these border on the decorative, recalling the vibrancy of Van Gogh, they nevertheless maintain a strong sense of formal structure and design"
 
Joni L. Kinsey, Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie, 1996
 
 
18. Illinois Landscape #121, 1992
oil and acrylic on canvas
18 x 90 inches
Collection of Robert and Judy Markowitz, Bloomington, Illinois
 
"Gregor's panoramas capture the magnificence and subtle variety of the Midwestern landscapeScattered copses on the horizon accentuate the splendor of the lightIn the foreground, an untended patch of land, painted in a variety of browns and greens, contrasts with the golden promise of an adjacent cultivated field."
 
Gerald Nordland, Harold Gregor, 1993
 
 
19. Illinois Landscape #136, 1996
oil and acrylic on canvas
18 x 90 inches
John R. and Barbara Gregor, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
 
"We tend to think of landscape painting in 19th-century terms, that is we tend to have a stereotypical view of landscape paintings that says they're done in oil, and they rely on standard compositional formats. They have a central focus, for example, with a big tree on the right and a little tree on the left, and trees and roads march you back to the horizon line. I wanted to make landscape painting representative of the 20th century and even the future."
 
Harold Gregor, Watercolor, Fall 1997
 
 
20. Garden (Bright Light) #140, 1996
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
 
"The venerable Harold Gregor is one of the Midwest's most accomplished landscape painters, his oils [sic] on canvas consistently marked by deft brushwork, solid compositions and unsentimental tone. Essentially a realist, Gregor nonetheless has turned into a wild-eyed Fauve on occasion"
 
David McCracken, Chicago Tribune, 10 September 1993
 
 
21. Glorious Fall Splendor, 1996
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe
 
"I'm trying to build on a platform of flattened space to achieve three-dimensional space through the use of color. I shape the space with color as well as with descriptive objects. I don't just put one color next to another. I use tonal color and color combinations, locate the strongest color, and incorporate a recognizable image."
 
Harold Gregor, Watercolor, Fall 1997
 
 
22. Illinois Landscape #144, 1997
acrylic on canvas
18 x 90 inches
Monsanto, St. Louis, Missouri
 
"Viewing the Midwest prairie landscape casually from our car windows as we drive by, people today tend to perceive the scene as a huge panorama. The 19th-century viewer assumed a fixed focal point, while in the elongated horizontal space there is no strong focal point. We look at the scene but do not focus on it. We just gather it in, looking at it for a moment, then go on to the next concentration, or gathering of events."
 
Harold Gregor, Watercolor, Fall 1997
 
 
24. Landscape Series #145 Hot Night Sunset, 1997
acrylic on canvas
45 x 68 inches
Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
 
"Passing though Illinois at sunset, driving for what seemed like forever into the slowly altering color atmosphere [was] an Emersonian sublime moment!"
 
Harold Gregor, Recovering the Prairie, ed. Robert F. Sayre, 1999
 
 
25. Illinois Flatscape #60, 1997
acrylic on canvas
30 x 40 inches
Collection of Gene and Terry Carr, Glenview, Illinois
 
"In the 19th century, you did not see many landscapes painted as though looking down from above. Now people view the landscape from airplane windows so a landscape painting with that point of view is accepted as commonplace, whereas in the 19th century it would have been a curiosity. Flatness, grids, leveling, equality, and notions about democracy are all pertinent to our life concerns. In my color-formed landscapes I try to suggest visual equivalences of these concerns."
 
Harold Gregor, Watercolor, Fall 1997
 
 
23. Hillside Garden #165, 1997
watercolor and crayon on paper
18 x 24 inches
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
24. Deep Blue Air #172, 1997
watercolor and crayon on paper
18 x 24 inches
Courtesy of the Artist
 
 
25. Illinois Flatscape #66, 1999
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
 
"Because twenty-first century issues and values will be different from those of the twentieth and nineteenth centuries, landscape painting today, to be of insightful consequences, needs to be as remote as possible from past artistic conventions and expectations. Landscape painting needs to be 'of our time' and perhaps even beyond our time; but at the same time it must not detach itself too far from nature. Landscape painting without an anchoring natural reference is not landscape painting but something else."
 
Harold Gregor, Art Scene: Chicago 2000, ed. Ivy Sundell, 2000
 
 
26. Illinois Landscape #152, 1999
oil and acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
 
"I do these paintings to remind people how beautiful it is around here and that this land is worth being concerned about. When you see something that has beauty and aesthetic strength, you treasure it."
 
Harold Gregor, Watercolor, Fall 1997
 
 
27. Illinois Landscape #170, 2001
acrylic on canvas
14 _ x 68 inches
Collection of Gene and Terry Carr, Glenview, Illinois
 
"And yet it is this challenge ­ to perceive the remarkable amid the prosaic ­ that lies at the heart of the intrigue of this landscape and of Gregor's pictorial treatment of it. It is a misleadingly simple terrain that belies its own complexity, and viewers must work to recognize its power and fragility."
 
Joni L. Kinsey, Harold Gregor: From the Road, from the Trail, from the Sky, 2001
 
 
28. Illinois Landscape #172, 2001
oil and acrylic on canvas
14 _ x 68 inches
Collection of David and Kathryn Vitek
 
"I love and find inspiration in the landscape of the American MidwestI see character and strength there. It is a subject distinctly American: the fruitful plain ­ the working farm consisting of corncribs, barns, silos ­ images that have become cliché but that I have tried to invest with wonder and revised meaning."
 
Harold Gregor, Watercolor Magic, Winter 1999
 
 
29. Illinois Flatscape #77, 2002
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Paul and Margaret Lurie
 
"in the bright light of morning or midday, a neat little farmstead is set amid plaid-looking planted fields, clumps of trees, rust colored earth and bands of roads on the bank of a bright blue body of water. The colors look a little punched-up, giving the scape a theatricality it may not really possess, but put that down to painter's license."
 
Grace Glueck, The New York Times, 24 May 2002
 
 
30. Illinois Flatscape #80, 2002
acrylic on canvas
52 x 84 inches
Southwestern Illinois College/ Foundation Collection, Belleville
 
"Gregor's aerial viewpoint discloses patterns that would be harder to notice on the ground, such as the reiteration of tire tracks in the mud or dust and the lacework at the edges of fields where the tractor turns."
 
Janet Koplos, Art in America, March 2003
 
 
31. Illinois Colorscape #78, 2002
Watercolor on paper
28 _ x 43 inches
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe
 
 
32. Illinois Colorscape #80, 2002
watercolor on paper
28 _ x 43 inches
Gerald Peters Gallery, Dallas
 
 
33. Illinois Flatscape #83, 2003
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Gerald Peters Gallery, Dallas
 
"Imagine, then, the quandary faced by Harold Gregor, 'dean' of the Illinois 'heartland' paintersBy adopting the all-seeing eye of a hot-air balloonist or light-plane pilot, Gregor has been able to visualize the farm as an abstract pattern."
 
James Auer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 31 October 2003
 
 
34. Illinois Landscape #180 (Trail Series), 2003
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches Gerald Peters Gallery, Dallas
 
 
"Gregor is surely inspired by Matisse when he interweaves the forms of real places into a web of pattern, and even more when the environment is so drenched in color that it almost makes your teeth ache. He has taken this approach into his own vastly different world. He presents a painter's vision of intensified color of the sort that is now becoming familiar to us through digital alteration of photos, but which can still be the product of an artist's unassisted imagination."
 
Janet Koplos, Art in America, March 2003
 
 
35. Illinois Landscape #185 (Trail Series), 2004
acrylic on canvas
60 x 82 inches
Courtesy of the Artist
 
"He was all the teachers I wished I'd had."
 
Kenneth A. Holder, Bloomington Pantagraph, 11 June 1995
 
 
36. Illinois Flatscape #95, 2005
acrylic on canvas
49 x 80 inches
Nita and Keith Kattner Collection, Bloomington, Illinois
 
"I basically organize space through color forms and layering, not unlike, believe it or not, Jackson Pollock. I love triadic combinations."
 
Harold Gregor, Watercolor Magic, November 2000
 
 
37. Illinois Landscape #187, 2005
acrylic on canvas
18 x 90 inches
Ron and Nancy Guthoff, Bloomington, Illinois
 
"Of all the features of American landscape over the years, irony may be the one that Gregor most conspicuously does without. If he is suspicious of the expressive largesse of Romanticism, he says so only by refusing to indulge it; he has mastered a kind of tour-de-force realism only to put it to that rarest of ends: an egoless expressionism. It is as if he allows the land to exhibit its own intrinsic energy unimpeded by interpretation. One senses that Gregor proceeds from the premise that landscape painting as genre, and landscape itself as symbol and as reality, need no justification."
 
Holland Cotter, Harold Gregor: A New View, 1987
 
 
 
38. Illinois Landscape #188 (Left-Right Vibrascape Series), 2005
acrylic on canvas
49 _ x 66 inches
Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago
 
 
39. Illinois Landscape #189 (Left-Right Vibrascape Series), 2005
acrylic on canvas
50 x 66 inches
Gerald Peters Gallery, Dallas

 

Companion show

 

A colorful companion show to the Mitchell Museum's major retrospective exhibition of artist Harold Gregor opened July 29 in the Administration Building Gallery at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts.

Harold Gregor: Works on Paper examines Harold Gregor's skill as a draftsman and watercolorist, providing a more fulsome appreciation of Gregor's remarkable range as an artist.

In June of this year, Gregor was featured in Watercolor USA at the Springfield (Missouri) Art Museum and was inducted into the Watercolor Honor Society, a distinction reserved for artists with long histories of achievement in the medium.

Continuing through October 29, the exhibition is sponsored by The Peoples National Bank and cosponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Doug Kroeschen.

 

Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy:

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts / Mitchell Museum in Resource Library.


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