For over a century, our region has been home to extraordinary artists. Local Arts Index highlights the work of individuals who continue our community’s rich creative legacy.
Meet Lawrence Hultberg.
How Did You Become An Artist?
As a child I doodled my way through school. I enjoyed cartooning and producing exacting geometric designs using a ruler and a compass, as well as detailed freeform compositions of shapes and color reminiscent of what would become known as psychedelic artwork, though prior to my own experimentation in those realms.
Considering my background, I suppose becoming an artist was inevitable. Both parents and an uncle were accomplished artists, and I was raised in a community surrounded by artistically inclined folks—Modernists, who many might think of as the cultural creatives of their day, though Avant-garde might be the more appropriate term.
Apparently, the gestation period of those influences was quite long; at least when it comes to my own evolution as an artist, as I hadn’t started to paint with any conviction until I was in my forties. My earliest artistic inclinations were actually expressed through music, having taken up guitar in my teens, which I continue to play to this day.
I had already been an art dealer for many years before I felt compelled to start painting myself. My father’s artistic skills and ingenuity has always been a great inspiration, but living with a collection of large abstract paintings by a Santa Fe artist that I had acquired, is what ultimately aroused my craving to paint, as well as influenced my style.
What Kind Of Art Do You Make?
Prior to painting, my first experimentation with visual art was through collage. This included 3-D collage, where I raised 2-D imagery off the surface at varying degrees, embellished with actual objects to further enhance the effect. Assemblage and the idea of repurposing ordinary objects into compositions that utilized the relationships of their form, color and texture in ways that transcended their otherwise banal existence also moved me. I am an active photographer and videographer as well, and really enjoy the digital arts.
My earliest paintings were a combination of acrylic paint and colored pencil, and were exclusively on paper. I later added oil crayon. Having previously found the ‘thirsty’ quality of paper to be more desirable to my style, it has only been more recently that I started tackling canvas in any sort of committed way. Most of my paintings would fall into the Abstract Expressionist category, with color and texture being predominant factors. I’m still grappling with composition, for interacting with the materials through constant experimentation has seemed to have dominated my painting experience to date.
What’s Your Muse?
As cliche as it might sound, I would say that nature has been my most significant creative influence. I spent a lot of time in the woods growing up, examining close up the environment in ways that children seem to have greater access to, being both nearer to the earth physically and still having an insatiable curiosity for what lies beneath every rock. The multitude of colors, textures and organic free-flowing forms found in nature juxtaposed with the harder linear edges of man’s typical architectural constructs are symbolic to my own struggles when painting. My intent so far has been to avoid representation as much as possible, but when using lines it is difficult not to create geometric forms that inevitably become reminiscent of one thing or another.
Tribal art has always been a great inspiration. Being a dealer in enthographic artifacts for over 30 years provided me the opportunity to become influenced by these distinct cultural sensibilities and styles. I consider Africans (and other tribal people as well) aesthetically advanced when it comes to how they represent the human form, and how they combine form and function in their art, architecture, garb and furnishings. It is well known that the brilliance displayed through their cultural artifacts was a primary influence upon those credited with spawning Cubism and the Modern Art movement.
I have always considered myself more of a promoter of the arts than an artist. I am still very much motivated in that direction, but I am also beginning to take my own artistic endeavors more seriously, with the idea of becoming more disciplined. I’m not a naïve artist, in the same sense as those considered “outsider” artists, as I have been routinely exposed to a great deal of art. I’m just unschooled and self-taught and searching for the right mentor.
I’ve been active with the Nyack Art Collective in both promoting and participating in our First Friday events each month. I’m presently considering several other art related projects, including the possibility of opening a gallery, helping to start an art center of some sort, and maybe even producing an art fair. Rockland County has historically been home to quite a few talented artists, and I would like to collaborate with those who want to see the arts become a more substantial cultural and economic component of our community, especially in ways that would attract art lovers from all over, and provide a greater monetary base for those wanting to earn a living as an artist, or as an art dealer. I’m open to possible collaborations with those who have similar goals and mutual interests.
To see more of Lawrence’s work visit hultberg.com
Local Arts Index is sponsored by Maria Luisa, 77 South Broadway and ML by Maria Luisa, 75 South Broadway, Nyack, NY