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    Hickory Mertsching

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    "Hickory Mertsching’s human and animal skulls grab the eye with memento-mori still lifes that are oddly droll, even in their moribundity." -Richard Speer, Visual Arts Critic, Willamette Week, Portland, Oregon

    Objects & Arrangements

    Artist Statement, June 2018

    The simple object is filled with purpose, handcrafted to be utilized in its short ephemeral existence or generational lifespan. On its own, the object tells a story worn by the passage of time, whether through a patina of rust or chipped paint, a history is captured. One’s imagination can hypothesize the story of a skull, a clove of garlic, a paintbrush or a manufactured vessel, all built to serve a purpose in our life. The tools that we use to cut and carve our harvested fruit and meat are engaged to our hands of toil. The collections of vessels we manufacture and maintain for the storage of endless bounty or scarce commodities all hold a place in our homes. Mundane is the simple object on its face, but once arranged with peers, a narrative is created, illustrating space and time.

    Observationally painting the still-life genre has always been a fascination of mine. It contains all the many layers of autodidactic traditional painting. On the rudimentary level, challenges include: draftsmanship, color theory, texture, and most importantly, the context and construction of the image. If successful, the resulting painting will tell a quiet, contemplative story. The paintings evolve into artworks that meld collage, minimal presentations, and concepts of habitat. My medium of choice has always been oil paint. I find the modeling properties to be endless and timeless. My brushwork presentation ranges from forced illustrative techniques to loose impressionistic interpretation. I employ a limited palette with modest color schemes to create a harmonious picture plane. I also enjoy value ranges that capture chiaroscuro and bright infusions of color.

    As a longtime resident of both Oregon and Northern Wisconsin, provincial influences make up the core of my paintings. In addition, I gravitate towards and pull from historical painting genres, such as Flemish Still-Lifes, Post-War Pop Art, and Americana. All aspects of my paintings are crafted by me in my basement studio, from building canvases, acquiring props, and building frames. When I am not painting in the studio, my time is spent raising my pre-teen children and enjoying many hobbies that include fishing, gardening, painting plein air, birdwatching, and brewing the occasional beer.