Hollis Heichemer: Entanglement

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One of Hollis Heichemer’s most prevalent attributes is her mindfulness, and her thoughtfulness about the world she openly experiences. She directly transcribes her intimate reactions of the physical environment around her into her lyrical paintings, as if she is a conduit between nature and the art she creates. Few artists display her deftness at capturing atmosphere, light, color, and form with such a heightened sensibility. Of her work Heichemer says, “I’m interested in the moment that something shifts. The sudden disruptions, when we’ve moved from one second to the next but in that instant something inexplicable has happened. We’ve seen something; felt something; our imagination has been sparked; a perspective has been altered; and we’ve changed.” With this latest group of paintings, Heichemer continues to explore ways to imbue her paintings with the array of emotions that she communicates to her audience, whether it be a celebration of the sheer beauty, the quietude or starkness of the environs, or the daunting drama of the darkness. Sometimes it is a frenzy of color and motion she conveys; others a contemplative, somber moment. It is as if she can saturate her brush with the raw emotions she is experiencing and suffuse the canvas with those personal feelings. The fifteen paintings which comprise the exhibition reveal Heichemer’s evolution as a painter while retaining the hallmarks of her style: intensity, passion, gesture, and an exquisite palette. The new body of work demonstrates an unrestrained freedom with a mature, developed resolution of compositional depth and compelling division of visual space. The viewer is pulled into the vortex of these beautiful paintings just beneath the surface plane; and as the titles allude to, the references to nature—both subtle and direct—are ever present. We are delighted to present these complex, striking works to an audience eager to see what this talented artist has been creating. Hollis Taggart Debra Pesci




The modern mind is encouraged to satisfy curiosity via a ticking of boxes. The quest for inspiration is often presented as a shopping expedition—think TED talks, listicles, and viral video tutorials—that offer the promise of insight through osmosis. Is such unidirectional conveyance really capable of stimulating and stretching the imagination? Somewhere along the way, we’ve been absolved of the presumed tedium of hard study, the frustration of grappling, and the risk of handling material whose depths may not be easily plumbable. Insight is now algorithmically pre-programed as a fait accompli. Forget the heroic labors of Hercules, just sit back and scroll your way to savvy: Top 10 Books to Quote Over Cocktails, 5 Secrets to Click-Worthy Photography, 3 Hacks to Up Your Art Game. If something cannot be quickly deconstructed, diagnosed, or distilled, we are now permitted to lose interest or even grow offended that some secret is being withheld from us. This is a complaint with which many poets are familiar. I suspect that an artist as intriguingly oblique and beguiling as Hollis Heichemer may also have been tested with the question: What are your paintings “tr ying to say,” as if exposition were the fullest measure of their value or relevance. If, as the poet and critical essayist Kenneth Rexroth once wrote, “All art is a symbolic criticism of values,” then it is the challenge of each artist to decide how much and how directly she reveals a personal truth. It is also the challenge of her audience to resist the desire for an easily repeatable sound bite or “take away” explanation. The demand for literal meaning risks missing the actual point. A desire to deconstruct the “meaning” of a painting can defeat both artist and audience. It places a commodity between what can be a much more fluid, expansive, and valuable exchange.


Feeling is first. Let us lead with that—or better yet, let’s follow it. Think of the most moving experiences you’ve had in your life. Likely the fullness of sensation drains out when you’ve tried to describe the profound singularity of that moment to someone else. It’s akin to pinning a butterfly to Styrofoam in hopes of recalling its flare of beauty in flight. Heichemer’s creations share something of a wild butterfly’s iridescence on the wing. May we thus approach her paintings as similarly vital and vibrant life forms? I believe we should in order to fully embrace and activate the arc of their own (and our own) discovery. There are certain things that we know to be real and true at a primal level, not because we can deduce them, but because they are intrinsic to the sap and sinew of our being. Love is like this, as is awareness of mortality. This elemental recognition is at the heart of Hollis Heichemer: Entanglement. To enter the world of Heichemer is to suspend the need to own a fact; it spurs a deeper sense of connection to self and to others. Here you are to be absolved of the arrogance of didactic certainty. Each painting is an invitation. You begin to breathe, then feel, then think as though both gloriously lost in and one with the vast myster y of being. Imagine that standing in the glow of a Heichemer painting, you are standing before a mirror. The self becomes both essential and immaterial. Were Heichemer still living in an urban realm, she might capture the shapes and shines of urban debris, the colors of commercialism, the lights of billboards, street signs, and flashing lights. But she now lives in the wooded world of rural New Hampshire. Her paintings collage sensory inputs from nature itself. Her source media are elemental, seasonal, relics of felt experience, characterized by relative solitude and the act of listening and observation. She seems to hold a magnifying glass to a pool of water that is anything but stagnant up-close. Or is she tracing the marks that sunlight makes across a field, the energy of a leaf returning to dust, to nutrients, to the web that


knits a human invader to her chosen habitat. Heichemer invites us to walk down her paths and run in her shoes, among the less visible mechanisms of stimuli as they flash upon the imagination of a single and singular artist. What do these paintings say about the value of beauty or of what we humans value as beautiful? Can we compare the idealized perfection of Venus de Milo to the ephemeral breeding and feeding ground of a vernal pool? Which rouses us to greater heights of revelation or wider moments of contemplation? Do we have to choose? Says who? Envision yourself staring into the eyes of ancient Greek statuar y, seeking the glow that shone for its sculptor long ago. Now, picture yourself staring into one of these shallow self-contained pools formed by winter snow melt or spring rain. You will witness birth, death, and the struggle for survival bursting forth in rare and wriggling glory. There is a place, Heichemer seems to suggest, where the beastliness and beauty of life coexist. She reminds us that we too belong, as much in the salamander’s shallows as in the cloister of a marble hall.

TAMSIN SPENCER SMITH was born in England and lives in San Francisco. She has published four collections of poetr y: Word Cave (2018), Between First and Second Sleep (2018), Displacement Geology (2020), and The Profound M: Found Photos Paired with Poems (2020), in addition to a novel, XISLE (2020). Smith is also a painter, exhibiting with the Divers Gallery in San Francisco. She frequently writes art reviews and has contributed to exhibition catalogues, most recently an essay on Joan Brown. Smith holds a MA from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a BA from Kenyon College.



with wings of equal size and shape

to the body

would you called me

tapered close

a sort of elegant



or fly for a farther window

where those of staggered span dwell climb up o’here be dragons

these braids

(meaning also sudden movement)

bronze spears sun-lit become

fate’s iridescence

on the wind

yet not of it

a momentary

true confession: when first i beheld you skim the water like a sea plane

dip your shoulder to the pool

(how i longed to glide towards that secret

(spring) of a touch i can not name just listen for the whir)

focus: shift we

from object to essence cradled in pretext to pollination stretched to send forth stronger stems flights of turnstone gills of opening


immediately exotically, here and hungr y

possibly the last known


this is

each our choice

to make


as a

bow upon the cello

FALL not long awake she leaves the warmth of home to lope the lanes in the ancient way hung with frost parting darkness switches on the gaze that seeks no object other-wise beyond the crackled lichen clinging unripe to bark to branch to bough tenderly traversed she treads tapestries of bosky debris which lie upon the floating floor like glass slippers the frozen needles of a pine gathered music for the puddles to wind ribbons of flowering time trail them in the cobwebs and dust sing out again as the riot of Autumn sounding ways, coming home


WINTER as rites of purification an old year gets thrown off quicker than dynamite’s lovely brittle sticks can melt hard mile’s desire this utility of lost chances too breathless for diction claims a silent eloquence beneath ice and uncertainty new moons cast the sky yet you have had enough of stillness to find the wish to set your tooth inside its hunger taste from husk each color becoming a new native species capable of containing (or erasing) its own blurred boundaries


SUMMER We met in wet grass in the early morning and lay there until the sky shone with ancient stories. A Cat’s Eye Nebula, the Tadpole Galaxy, Celestial Eagle, and Swan. Summer’s asterism only 17 million miles away. Side by side, our fingers stitched into baskets, we cradle our own thoughts, touching only at bent elbows, our bare feet. I want to tell you, though I’m not sure that I can really explain, about the time I met an animal alone in the woods. Which one, you ask. There are different ways to answer that, as it is with any question. None of them say enough. So I begin to count what I can of these terrestrial stars. Each lightning bug produces a chemical reaction inside its abdomen. This bioluminescence occurs when oxygen and the enzyme luciferase meet. It’s a cold light generating little actual heat. Like a ghost lamp. Such facts are another way of tr ying to add up the disparate moments that make a life. The Latin word lucifer means morning star or light-bringing, if used as a descriptor. I suppose people do change. Even angels. Even this garden. Yet I know that if I let my smallest toe lean into yours, right now, I will feel warm all over. Somehow this is everything and enough.


skipping stones 2021, oil on board, 40 × 30 inches (101.6 × 76.2 cm) (tetraptych)



winter blanket 2021, oil on board, 30 × 45 inches (76.2 × 114.3 cm) (triptych)



star gazing 2021, oil on board, 30 × 20 inches (76.2 × 50.8 cm) (diptych)



fireflies 2021, oil on board, 20 × 60 inches (50.8 × 152.4 cm) (tetraptych)



waves of green 2021, oil on linen, 20 × 20 inches (50.8 × 50.8 cm)



early bird 2021, oil on linen, 60 × 60 inches (152.4 × 152.4 cm)



which way the wind blows 2021, oil on linen, 20 x 20 inches (50.8 x 50.8 cm)






Hollis Heichemer was born in Binghamton, New York in 1963 and currently lives and works in New Hampshire. She received her BS from Ohio University and her MA from Seton Hall University. Heichemer is the recipient of several prestigious awards and honors, including the Franz and Virginia Bader Fund Grant in 2016. She has been an artist in residence in coveted and highly competitive locations such as Vermont, Maine, and Toblach-Dobbiaco, Italy, and continues to make her mark internationally through her extensive time working in Ireland. Over the course of several years beginning in 2008, Heichemer has been notably involved in the esteemed Residency and Fellowship Programme at the Artist in Rural Ireland Foundation in Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland. Heichemer’s work can be found in the collection at the Ballinglen Museum of Contemporary Art in Ballycastle and has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Gross McCleaf Galler y and Rosenfeld Galler y in Philadelphia and J. Cacciola Galler y in New York. She has participated in a wide range of group exhibitions, most recently at Dolby Chadwick Galler y in San Francisco, Stanek Galler y in Philadelphia, and Hollis Taggart in Southport, Connecticut. Heichemer has been represented by Hollis Taggart since April 2020. Her work has been highlighted in articles and reviews by leading art news sources including Hyperallergic, Harper’s Magazine, and Artnet.


EDUCATION 1991 MA, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ 1985 BS, Ohio University, Athens, OH

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2021 Hollis Taggart, New York 2020 Hollis Taggart, online viewing room 2019 Hollis Taggart, New York 2016 Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia 2013 J. Cacciola Gallery, New York 2008 Rosenfeld Gallery, Philadelphia 2006 Rosenfeld Gallery, Philadelphia 2004 Rosenfeld Gallery, Philadelphia 2003 Rosenfeld Gallery, Philadelphia 2000 Merrimack College, Andover, MA

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2021 A Way of Feeling, Hollis Taggart, Southport, CT 2020 Stay Inspired, Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco 2019 Unforseeable Thereness, Stanek Gallery, Philadelphia 2018 Here and Now, Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco Pure Abstraction, Stanek Gallery, Philadelphia 2017 Fullness Is Never Excessive, Dedee Shattuck Gallery, Westport, MA Solid and Real Things, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia 2016 Mixed Environs: Contemporary Painters, Lore Degenstein Gallery, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA 2014 The Size of Ideas, J. Cacciola Gallery, New York Virtual Sublime, J. Cacciola Gallery New York Hello Goodbye, Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco

2013 Sampler, Cerulean Arts, Philadelphia, curated by Bill Scott 2012 Napoleon Complex, J. Cacciola Gallery, New York

Beautiful Calamity, J. Cacciola Gallery, New York

Accumulations, J. Cacciola Gallery, New York

2011 New Paintings, J. Cacciola Gallery, New York 2010 Out of the Woods, Sommerville Manning Gallery, Greenville, DE Philadelphia Painters, The Painting Center, New York Images from North Mayo, Courthouse Gallery, The Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ballycastle, Co Mayo, Ireland 2009 Four Photographers, J. Cacciola Gallery, New York Drawing—Not Drawing, J. Cacciola Gallery, New York Abstract Invitational, The Gallery at DCCC, Media, PA 2007 Vast Beautiful Systems (Barely Holding Together), Jaskey/ Tower Gallery, Philadelphia Field Manual: Maneuvers in the Natural World, Hopkins House Gallery of Contemporary Art, Rutgers University, Haddon Township, NJ 2004 Pittura e fotografia dal punto di vista dell’occhio moderno, Castell Casa Wassermann a Villabassa, Toblach, Italy 2000 Abstraction, Rosenfeld Gallery, Philadelphia 1999 Small Works Show, Rosenfeld Gallery, Philadelphia 1998 New Talent Show, Rosenfeld Gallery, Philadelphia

AWARDS AND HONORS 2018 Residency, The Artist in Rural Ireland Foundation 2016 Franz and Virginia Bader Fund Grant 2014 Residency, The Artist in Rural Ireland Foundation 2010 Residency, The Artist in Rural Ireland Foundation 2008 Fellowship, The Artist in Rural Ireland Foundation New American Paintings, Mid-Atlantic, 75

Studio Visit, Volume Two

2007 Residency, Eagle Hill Foundation, Steuben, ME 2004 International Academy, Dolomite Academy, ToblachDobbiaco, Italy 1994 Fellowship, Residency, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Packard, Cassie. “Week in Review: Petitions Urge Museums to Retain Staff; Longtime NYC Gallery Shutters,” Hyperallergic, April 24, 2020. “a stone and a star” (Illustrated), Harper’s Magazine, July 2019. Cascone, Sarah. “Editors’ Picks: 17 Things Not to Miss in New York’s Art World This Week,” artnet News, April 1, 2019. Feigin, Lev. “Intimate Associations at IMMINENCE: Hollis Heichemer’s Stratigraphy of Color at Gross McCleaf,” phindie, January 5, 2017. Mir, Stan. “What’s Not for Sale: Hollis Heichemer’s Imminence,” Hyperallergic, December 10, 2016. McDonald, Natalie Hope. “10 Philadelphia Female Artists You Need to Know,” PhillyVoice, April 13, 2015. Malafronte, Allison. “Hollis Heichemer: The Space Between the Trees,” Fine Art Connoisseur, 2013. “Hollis Heichemer The Space Between the Trees: J. Cacciola Gallery,” NY Art Beat, 2013. “Mid-Atlantic #75,” New American Paintings, April/May 2008.


This catalogue has been published

Hollis Taggart

on the occasion of the exhibition

521 West 26th Street 1st Floor

“Hollis Heichemer: Entanglement”

New York, NY 10001

organized by Hollis Taggart, New York,

Tel 212 628 4000 Fax 212 570 5786

and presented from


September 10–October 9, 2021. Catalogue production: Kara Spellman All Artwork © Hollis Heichemer

Copyediting: Jessie Sentivan

Essay and Poems © Tamsin Spencer

Design: McCall Associates, New York


Printing: Point B Solutions, Minneapolis, MN

ISBN: 978-1-7333303-6-7

Photography: John W. Hession, New Hampshire

Publication © 2021 Hollis Taggart All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents prohibited. Frontispiece: bird song, 2021 (detail) Page 4: Heichemer’s studio, 2021, photographed by the artist Page 6: waves of green, 2021 (detail) Pages 28–29: wet grass, 2020 (detail)

Edition of 500

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