Beth Hammack

Walking into Beth Hammack’s studio is like stepping into the outdoors.  Artistic energy reverberates around this bright room.  Her gallery-like space is awash in sunlight that pours in from huge windows and skylights.  With books opened to inspiring images, paint brushes spilling out of giant containers and large, half-painted canvases hanging on the wall, I feel like I am in the middle of a brainstorm.  

Beth is preparing for her upcoming exhibit and has been working to complete 25 pieces before May 4th when her show opens at JRB Gallery.  These 25 paintings will pay tribute to artists who have inspired Mrs. Hammack’s journey as a painter.  

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In the photo, Beth stands next to two of these works in-progress.  The painting to the right takes its cue from Manet.  His portrait, The Fifer, is the inspiration piece and she plans to add detailing in the spirit of Cy Twombly.  

According to Hammack, creating these paintings is a process of trial and error.  With a background in math, classical European life drawing and interior design, she uses her training to analyze each piece for composition and balance.  When something feels off she experiments with mark-making, color and position until the tension of the elements harmonize.

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Beth doesn’t pretend to appreciate the straight-forward paintings that she sees so much of today.  Instead she is drawn to complication and finds mysterious works the most compelling.  “I like pieces that don’t immediately reveal all of their secrets” she admits.

Hammack references the writings in Twombly’s work.  “Twombly can be difficult to understand, yet compositionally his pieces are brilliant” she says.  His scribbles and calligraphic writings are often taken from poetry.  She wonders at the message and purpose behind the half-erased writings and is delighted to know that she may never have a complete answer to this question.

Mrs. Hammack adores Diebenkorn, Edward Curtis, Nicolai Fechin, Joan Mitchell and Gerhard Richter, among others.  She studies their approach, their paintings, their philosophies and adapts them to her own expression.  

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Looking at her works, the influence of these artists is visible yet Mrs. Hammack's own voice rings clear.  Her paintings are confident statements where strategically placed colored marks and dashes lend force and beauty to simple backgrounds.  As Beth explained, “I like to unwind the simplicity and make the story complicated.  I want the viewer to observe, contemplate and finish the piece that I begin.”

Thank you, Beth Hammack, for inviting Chic Travels to peek into your gallery.  It was a wonderful visit and much was learned from our conversation about the creative process.  Best of luck on the upcoming show!

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