Images Beyond Images
The Paintings of Maria Henle
One rainy day in 1982, artist Maria Henle climbed up the Mexican volcano Paricutin and drew two scenes:
One. How it looked on that wet day and
Two: How it looked exploding with red hot lava out of a farmer's corn field forty years earlier.
Maria put both images in one etching and never looked back. Since that day, Maria Henle, owner of the Maria Henle Gallery in St. Croix, has created startling paintings that portray multiple images. Today, Maria is known for her multi-layered oil paintings of the Caribbean sky and sea. Her juxtapositions turn a representational image into something more architectural and abstract -- more dynamic.
Maria usually overlays just two images but in her larger landscapes such as St. Croix Summer 1998 she'll overlay as many as five to create complex landscapes. Passionate about her island home, she captures a wide variety of scenes yet calls them all, "the essence of St. Croix." I grew up in St. Croix so I know how the Salt Pond reflects the dusk sky or the star-filled deep blue night that is unmistakably St. Croix.
The island is so small that you're never far from a view of the sea and you have a great variation of topography from the dry East End to the open-wide vista of the South Shore to the lush steep slopes of the North Shore that drop right down into the sea and always you're aware of the great play of weather around you.
Maria studied printmaking in the ateliers of Florence and later she worked in New York but St. Croix never left her. To counter its world of steel and concrete, she worked ten hours a day on a series of St. Croix sea scenes in her loft, discovering that escaping into the Caribbean while in the big city was meditative. One year she did a whole series of Caribbean nights and the next year, a series of underwater images, conjuring memories of her childhood swimming in the waters of Pelican Grove. Over the years her Caribbean scenes have changed.
My beaches were soft and not particularly harshly lit, now every rock is clear... it's a velvet color, really pure.
Tourists and locals alike love her color and purity. Today her gallery has become one of the cultural highlights of visiting St. Croix. Housed in an historic loft in Christiansted, the Maria Henle Gallery sells her oil paintings and etchings as well as the work of her late father, Fritz Henle, a renowned photographer. In the winter months, the gallery features the work of select artists in one-person exhibits.
Despite the hard work of running a gallery, Maria carves out at least three full days a week to paint. In the heart of Christiansted, she endlessly tries to perfect her seductive images of St. Croix, often while listening to the exquisite voice of the great opera singer, Maria Callas. "I aim," she says, "at a similar operatic perfection of drama, color and texture."
Where to buy Maria Henle's paintings and etchings:
Maria Henle Studio
55 Company St. Christiansted, St. Croix VI 00820
(340) 773 7376
207 Cristo St. Old San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901
(787) 724 8904
Anguilla, BWI (264) 497 2263 email@example.com
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