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William Cather Hook: Santa Fe Segue

July 25, 2018 - Kelly Skeen

William Cather Hook: Santa Fe Segue


Notable western landscape painter William Cather Hook will present a new body of work for his one-man show, Santa Fe Segue, at Meyer Gallery this August. Hook’s exhibition paintings reflect his experiences in New Mexico; his work typically blends nature’s abstraction with recognizable subject matter, resulting in harmonizing compositions that reflect the physical and emotional effects of the high desert landscape. In paintings like Couse House Garden, Aspen Geometry and Cottonwood Ranchito, Hook offers unique perspectives on familiar New Mexico subjects with the masterful painting techniques and loosened realism he’s known for. “I keep the subject matter intact as far as content, but bring it up to speed with a different look,” he explains.


Through this painting approach, Hook has always encouraged viewers to take a more inquisitive look at our daily surroundings and notice the relationships between shapes, lines and colors that occur in everyday landscapes. For Santa Fe Segue, Hook takes this notion one step further with the debut of a modern painting series that magnifies those subtle relationships, which are the basis of his traditional compositions. Upon first viewing this new Santa Fe series, it would appear that the artist has completely abandoned any discernable subject matter in favor of abstraction. But through deeper study of the paintings’ open-ended color fields and primitive forms, we begin to recognize Hook’s sandy-pink adobe walls, linear white aspen trees and vibrant southwest skies. It is in this way that Hook’s subject matter remains “intact” as he says; the landscape has simply been pared down to its emotional and artistic essence. In many cases Hook’s modern works are directly based on another traditional landscape in the show - note the relationships between Rio Chama and Santa Fe No. 3; Spring Snowmelt, Taos and Santa Fe #9; Chamisa & Mesas and Santa Fe #7. According to the artist, this “segue to modern” has been thirty-one years in the making.


William Hook’s artistic family legacy also has an ever-present influence on his work. Hook’s father, a fine art photographer, and his grandmother, one of the first professional female architects in the country, encouraged Hook’s artistic tendencies from a young age. Other family members were art historian Bainbridge Bunting, Italian painters Gino and Bertha Venanzi as well as Pulitzer Prize winning author, Willa Cather. Cather was William Hook’s namesake cousin with whom he shares a personal connection based on their mutual love for the southwest. Cather had roots in the East and Midwest but spent a significant amount of time in New Mexico as a regular guest of Mabel Dodge Luhan’s during the height of the Taos Art Colony. Cather’s well-known novel, Death Comes for the Arch Bishop is set in New Mexico and has influenced many of William Hook’s traditional exhibition paintings such as The Bishop’s Garden. Hook sees parallel relationships between his paintings and Cather’s prose as he masterfully illustrates the same landscapes that she poetically describes in her work.


Meyer Gallery is proud to host William Cather Hook for his annual solo show of new paintings. Please join us at the gallery on Friday, August 3rd from 5-7pm for the opening of Santa Fe Segue.

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