NORMAN — The works of two distinguished professors emerti of the OU School of Art & Art History are being exhibited during “Oil and Wood: George Bogart and Jim Henkle,” at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art through Sept. 14.
For Susan Havens Caldwell, Ph.D., bringing this exhibition to fruition was a labor of love. The University of Oklahoma Professor Emeritus and David Ross Boyd Professor of Art History curated the just opened show in part because of the close friendships involved.
It’s a collection of exquisite paintings by Bogart (1933-2005) and the finely designed and crafted furniture of Henkle. Both men were art school faculty members with OU tenures overlapping Caldwell’s who came here in 1976 and retired last year. The fact that she was friends with Bogart, and still is with his spouse, Elyse, as well as Henkle, who resides in Norman, has contributed to the exhibit’s strength.
“It won’t sound very intellectual but this exhibition is stunningly beautiful,” Caldwell said. “If people like color and beautiful design this will be a very rich show for the eyes.”
The Bogart portion of the exhibition has been in the works for quite a long time, Caldwell said. Bogart’s wife asked Caldwell to curate a show. She had already done research on Bogart for a book about him and Eugene Bavinger.
Caldwell said she had a life-long collection of Bogart’s journals and sketch books available for reference during the organizing process. His paintings are abstract with some being masterpieces of bright saturated color and others incorporating somber close-valued tones.
“Bogart believed that abstraction had to come from some source,” Caldwell said. “He talked about seeing some forms from his peripheral vision.”
Much of his inspiration came from nature. Occasionally, objective images — such as tea cup or paint brushes — appear in Bogart’s pictures. But more often than not they’re a boldly abstract juxtaposition of colors such as royal blue and mustard with symbols (X) as in the cryptically titled “Eulogy for the death of Hans Hofmann” (1966).