Picture Today

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September 21, 2018

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Four Dogs on White Background I, Gaylen Hansen, 2017. Acrylic on Canvas, 36×43 inches. Linda Hodges Gallery, Seattle, WA

Today is the 97th birthday of painter Gaylen Hansen. Hansen is still painting as he has done for the last half dozen decades in the Palouse region of Eastern Washington. He’s a great inspiration as a painter and as an old painter. I hope to be painting 90 inch canvases when I’m 97.

Hansen was an abstract painter earlier in his career. But he moved to the Palouse, 4,000 square miles of rolling wheat fields and windswept hills, and started painting regional subjects. He employed rough, scumbled brushwork leftover from his abstract days, a kind of naive whimsy which was entirely new. (It doesn’t take long to discover more than a little menace in the paintings as well.) Gayle Hansen worked big on huge canvas. And he still does.

Here’s a photo of Hansen back in 1990.

DEF4FEB0-2B43-4176-A1FA-39A1301D4A72Photo by Gordon Brown

One more.

Buffalo and Trout, 1988.

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Picture Today

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September 12, 2018

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Anger, Ben Shawn, 1953. Watercolor and Ink on Board, 25×21 inches.

Today is the birthday of painter Ben Shahn, born 1898, died 1969. American Painting 1930s and 1940s? He’s your man.

Sure, there’s Beckmann but Beckmann never stopped being German in the way that Shahn stopped being Lithuanian and became American. Shaun became early midcentury American Painting, and his drawings, book covers and posters, and portfolios made him the illustrator and soul of that period’s off-kilter struggling urban American angst. Work shoes and a cigarette. Before Abstract Expressionism.