Artist relies on detailed observation for the right portrait

Artist Lawrence J. Herrera draws from association with fellow painters in local 'society'

By Tempo staff
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 10/2/19

Georgia Gersh, owner and curator at Magpie Taos gallery, said an upcoming portrait exhibition by Taos artist Lawrence J. Herrera is "the first portrait show to be hosted at Magpie and …

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Artist relies on detailed observation for the right portrait

Artist Lawrence J. Herrera draws from association with fellow painters in local 'society'

Posted

Georgia Gersh, owner and curator at Magpie Taos gallery, said an upcoming portrait exhibition by Taos artist Lawrence J. Herrera is "the first portrait show to be hosted at Magpie and the final solo exhibit of the season at Magpie. It is going to be delightfully out of the ordinary."

The show will open with a reception Saturday (Oct. 5), 5-7 p.m., at Magpie gallery, 1405 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, at the Overland Compound in El Prado.

The artist, speaking about the portrait in art, quotes two of his greatest inspirations, saying, "Michelangelo wrote, 'Nor does God, in His grace, show himself to me in any other aspect more clearly than in a beautiful human veil; and that form alone I love, for in it He is mirrored.' And, as Titian wrote, 'The painter must always seek the essence of things, always represent the essential characteristics and emotions of the person he is painting.'"

He goes on to explain, "Detailed observation is required to convey not only the visage but also the character of the subject of a portrait. The ability to analyze the very subtle variations that define a face, as well as the translation of those features onto a canvas and subsequent need for corrections, adjustments, is a gift which is developed through practice and repetition. Decades of figure drawing and portrait painting have provided me the opportunity to hone these skills, a challenge which I love."

Herrera was born and raised in Oakland, California, where he studied at the College of Arts and Crafts. His talent was recognized early on, Gersh said in a press release. He was awarded the William Rice Scholarship for Summer Study 1957-59 and continued on to the Academy of Art in San Francisco where he was awarded a full scholarship from 1962-64. Since 1991, Herrera's studio and residence has been in Taos. He taught figure drawing at the University of New Mexico-Taos between 2002-05.

Herrera has been an important part of the Taos art community and has participated in group shows including "Taos Invites Taos," Taos Fall Arts Festival, Artes Descartes, UNM-Taos shows and "Pressing On" for the most part since their inception.

Notable exhibits in the past 20 years include an exhibit of large paintings with allegorical subject matter shown at the Harwood Museum of Art offices, a retrospective solo exhibit at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles, exhibits at Fremont Gallery in Pasadena, California, Rod Hubble Gallery in Santa Fe, Sage Fine Art and Hensley Gallery Southwest, in Taos.

Herrera was involved in the Taos Society of Portrait Artists, which was founded in 2000 by Seamus Berkeley (also represented at Magpie). They met every Saturday for three-hour sessions in various studios and museums such as The Millicent Rogers and Fechin House, outdoor yards, and other venues over the years. Participants included notable Taos artists Tom Rogers, Sal Giglio, Kristine McCallister, Larry Torrez, George Chacon, Libby Hart, Elizabeth Jose, Adeana Carlyle, Tom Rogers, Joceline Martinez, Margery Reading, Jane Grover, Wendi Beauford, Ron Barsano, Nancy Delpero, Dwarka Bonner and Randall LaGro, among others.

These talented artists often took turns posing for the group. All of the portraits in this show are a result of Herrera's time with them and feature some incredible renderings of local favorites.

For more information, call the venue at (781) 248-0166 or email georgiagersh@hotmail.com.

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