Organic Brilliance – Botanical Paintings
and Other Works by Larry McKim
Saturday May 18th to June 27th
Hamilton Street Gallery will be having a memorial exhibition for New Jersey artist Larry McKim, who passed away on February 7th, 2019. The exhibit will feature Larry’s botanical paintings, inspired by a recent trip to Mexico in the summer of 2018, never before shown. It was Larry’s wish to exhibit “something positive and visually beautiful”, and we are honored to be sponsoring this outstanding array of work.
Representational Paintings – 2018
After a one-week trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in the summer of 2018 I was inspired by the beauty of the natural landscape. Simply being in a place which held so many visual surprises and revelations pushed me out of the box of being a non-objective painter for at least at little while. It still sounds strange to say I paint flowers. The reality is that it is only in flowers that I find the formal color, form and textural relationships that I’ve strived to achieve in my abstract paintings and feel have come up short in some ways. I don’t have to generate ideas with flowers, I have to constrain the flow of ideas to make them manageable. The challenge is to simplify and translate to make compositions coherent. These paintings have flowers as a subject, but I bring a long history of being an abstract painter to the project and am attempting to walk a thin line between abstraction and representational artwork.
Mixing the Formal and Personal in Non-objective Paintings – 2013
I’ve created abstract paintings for many years and there have been several stylistic approaches during that time. The inspiration for my most recent series of geometric paintings came from aerial views of landscapes. The rectangular geometry of the roads in towns and the giant circles of rural fields contrasting the movement of rivers and winding country road struck me as meaningful. To me it all reflects the interplay of human invention, construction, and destruction. My first efforts for this body of work expanded from photos I took out of the windows of airplanes.
My media are acrylic paint on canvas, reduction woodblock printmaking, monoprinting and silkscreen. My imagery is initiated on Adobe Photoshop and developed from there. Digital artwork allows many versions of an idea to exist and be available at any time in the future. Ideas can be developed then remain with other compositions for further resolution. My laptop now serves as my sketchbook. After the initial phase of work on the computer, compositions continue to develop, especially with decisions about color, surface texture, tonal gradations and other formal considerations.
Imagery for all my work is abstract, however is not inspired only by basic geometric shapes. I also imply the human form, animal and plant shapes and landscape. Different pieces suggest humor, chaos, peacefulness and playfulness. The titles are my own perception of what the piece suggests and reflect only my own personal reading. Titles come after the work is completed.
Lawrence Dean ‘Larry’ McKim-Jan. 13, 1952 – Feb. 7, 2019
New Jersey artist and retired art teacher Larry McKim of Frenchtown died at age 67 following a heart attack.
Mr. McKim spent his life producing art in an effort to create imagery with complexity and uniqueness, inviting viewers to look and keep looking. In his nonrepresentational abstract paintings and prints, he explored color, form, texture and the boundaries of visual coherence. While maintaining a focus on process, he experimented with allowing elements and entire compositions to develop organically.
Mr. McKim showed his work nationally in more than 15 solo and 30 group exhibitions. He was awarded fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. He studied with Jacob Lawrence, Leon Golub, and John Goodyear. Mr. McKim’s work is in the New Jersey State Museum and several commercial collections.
Over the past three years, Mr. McKim’s work responded to significant social and political issues, including homelessness, climate change and immigration policy. Events in the world and in the United States had reached a tipping point where he felt he had to attempt a more representational and direct approach. He completed five series, each with a distinct format and content commenting on the political landscape. Mr. McKim’s final works synthesized his painting experience in a breathtaking series of floral paintings balanced between abstraction and realism.
Mr. McKim taught art and photography throughout his career, including 30 years at Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J., where he taught a full range of courses and developed new curricula for the district. He pioneered innovative approaches to exhibiting student work inside and outside of the school environment. Among the students, Mr. McKim was known for instilling confidence by affirming creative choices and providing freedom for exploration and self-expression. He did all of this gently and with compassion, treating every teenager as a whole human being.
McKim also taught extracurricular art courses at the Baird Center in South Orange, N.J., for 20 years. At the college level, he taught at Rutgers University, Jersey City University, the College of New Jersey, and Raritan Valley Community College.
Born Jan. 13, 1952, in Ellensburg, Wash., to Melba Jean (Alford) and Lester Wayne McKim, Larry was the oldest of five children, and is survived by his mother and siblings, David McKim, Marcia Levin, Colleen Gill and Rita Buyco.
Larry was a loving husband who maintained the precise amount of organized chaos to keep a smile on the face of his wife, Elizabeth (Broughman). He will also be missed by his two children, Montana and Cooper; his stepchildren, Pat and Esther (Gehman), and his ex-wife, Carla Katz. Larry was a gentle, loving, and considerate father.
He was generous and unselfish with his time and deeds, always stepping up to the plate no matter the task. Larry listened in a way that showed you were heard. His brilliance was quiet, unassuming, and modest, going beyond art into music, literature, and current events. Larry imparted lessons that will keep him alive forever.