Friday, March 27, 2009

James Hueter Exhibit

Using various materials including glass, mirrors, and pencil lead, James Hueter’s art is filled with the complex layering of different elements. At a current exhibit at the Claremont Museum of Art, Hueter’s impressive works are available for everyone to observe. The museum, which has not been open for very long, is small but has enough room to showcase many of Hueter’s pieces in what has been deemed “A Retrospective.” The exhibit, which will run through May 3, displays works from Hueter from each decade, dating back to the 1950s.

Hueter is a local artist from Claremont, but his paintings and drawings are worldly and broad in range. The guest curator for the exhibit, Steve Comba, brought Hueter’s work to the museum because he was inspired by the “hybrid nature of Hueter’s work, the notorious fickleness of the art market, the focused seriousness of his pursuits, and his own modest demeanor.”

One of the most striking pieces on display is a drawing entitled “Mystic Head” from 1960. It is created entirely out of small pencil strokes. When the viewer looks closely, all they can see is tiny pencil marks, but when standing across from the painting, a face comes into sight. Hueter was drawn to the form of these ‘soft drawings’ in which the “process began as an experiment involving repetitive, vertical strokes applied with gentle pressure.” These drawings (especially his “Self Portrait” from 1990) are ghostly images that have taken form from the usage of the lead in the pencil.

At the exhibit, there are works from Hueter including sculptures, acrylic paintings on wood (like “Jeff” from 1969), landscapes in oil paintings, and an entire room filled with 55 of the sketches and drawings he completed throughout his life. The sketches include rough outlines for his wood and glass designs and watercolors. Most of the images are of naked women, faces, or landscapes.

Around the 1970s, Hueter began working on a new style, using glass to create his illustrations. Creations like “Roman Woman” done in 2003 showcase reflections from mirrors and prisms to produce interactive pieces—the viewer first sees their own reflection and then proceeds to catch sight of a woman’s face drawn in the center of the work. Hueter was “initially attracted to its color, sheen, and prismatic diffusion of light.”

The museum is in the Packing House in Claremont at 536 West First Street, with admission prices at $5 for adults and free for anyone under 18. The museum offers many deals because they hope to get the community involved in the various exhibits. The first Friday of every month is free from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There are also Family Art Days, including the upcoming “Chalk Talks” in which children can experiment with pastels—the event has been inspired by Hueter’s works. For more information, visit

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