Bill’s work on display at U of M Health System received a favorable review by freelance entertainment writer, John Carlos Cantù of Ann Arbor.com. The headline in the printed publication reads, “Meticulous Brilliance”. Bill’s is the only art reviewed of that currently displayed through the Gifts of Art program. Read the review here or keep reading below “Rushing Water Lower Tahquamenon Falls”.
‘Gifts of Art’ Showcases Pastels of William Hosner: Meticulous Brilliance
Posted: Jul 28, 2010 at 5:50 AM [Jul 28, 2010]
William Hosner’s University of Michigan Health System Gifts of Art exhibit “Before His Eyes: Pastel Paintings” finds him meticulously illustrating his passion for art one patient brushstroke at a time.
Such an observation might seem a slim compliment until this Traverse City artist’s work is seen, because pastels (like oils) cannot be reproduced mechanically. Irrespective of how dynamic his work may appear photographically or in a print, pastel is one of those arts that must be viewed for its full impact.
Indeed, this distinction between mechanical art and handcrafting is a key element of Hosner’s view of creativity itself. As he says in his Gifts of Art gallery statement, “A photograph freezes a moment in time, while over a painting session; everything is moving, changing—the artist as well as the subject.”
He therefore draws inspiration from an article in the 1990 Pastel Society of America Catalogue that says, “Pastel is pure pigment. It is the most permanent of all (pigments) when applied to conservation ground and properly framed; the infinite variety of colors (ranging) from soft and subtle to hard and brilliant. Pastel paintings reflect light like a prism.”
This is an altogether accurate description of Hosner’s work. The imagery he chooses to depict—ranging in this display from landscapes and cityscapes of differing scales to the most intimate of portraiture—can have a sharpened appearance or disarming warmth.
Each painting shares an en plein air vivacity that, in his words, “lifts” the spirit. For this too, is an accurate description of Hosner’s work.
His “Rushing Water, Tahquamenon Falls” captures the quicken tempo of this Upper Peninsula Michigan waterfall cascading from a key vantage point at winter where a strategic bank divides the lower Tahquamenon River. What makes the painting come to life is not merely the spectacular depiction of this river at the most fierce season of the year, but the sheer exuberance of Hosner’s imagination. The application of his pastels is ultimately as dramatic as the furious drive of the Tahquamenon River itself.
“La Parroquia Majesty,” on the other hand, finds Hosner reveling in the grandeur of architecture. This famed Mexican church—La Parroquia San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico—is showcased by Hosner as a magnificent facade. One of Mexico’s famed landmarks, and one of the new world’s supreme examples of neo-gothic colonial architecture, La Parroquia spectacularly expands the magnitude of Hosner’s composition—which in turn allows him to expand the scope of his creativity—depicting the church’s prominent rose-colored spires against a bright blue Mexican sky.
Ultimately, the exhibit’s highlight is two paintings set together that would rank as masterworks in any display.
“Her Face to the Wind” and “Dreaming” show us Hosner at his best. The paintings won the Grand Prix de Sennelier at the 2009 Salon International du Pastel in Giverny, France. The first time that international jury has ever voted unanimously; “Her Face to the Wind” and “Dreaming” are absolutely stunning art by any standard.
“Her Face to the Wind” features Hosner’s model in profile standing against a turbulent, rippling shoreline. Her white blouse anchors the heart of the composition, but Hosner cleverly crafts a blue and yellow floral counterbalance in her skirt that gives the painting a dynamic inner tension. And to insure that the contrast between light and dark doesn’t unhinge the painting’s palette, he emphasizes a red scarf tied around her waist to meld the painting as a striking whole.
Remarkably, “Dreaming” goes a bit further. The pensive quality of “Dreaming’s” youthful model goes well beyond formal aesthetics. For the painting’s strategy is roughly the same as “Her Face to the Wind” in that a strategically placed white blouse is set in opposition to a darker wardrobe (in this instance a bathing suit) as she, too, stands against a shoreline.
Rather, Hosner’s en plein air intimacy makes the painting memorable as his model’s preoccupied gaze—coupled with her loosely flowing hair—giving the painting a mystery that richly deepens its composition. “Dreaming” accomplishes a feat that few artworks attain: Hosner provides us with a glimpse of another person’s spirit by turning daydream into reverie.
“Before His Eyes: Pastel Paintings” will continue through Aug. 16 at the University of Michigan Health System Gifts of Art Gallery—University Hospital Main Corridor, Floor 2, 1500 East Medical Center Drive. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily. For information, call 734-936-ARTS.
John Carlos Cantú is a free-lance writer who reviews art for AnnArbor.com.