ArtBeat: Artist driven toward beauty

  • North Leverett artist Lori Lynn Hoffer’s extensive exhibit of oil paintings is at Barnes Gallery at Leverett Crafts & Arts Center through October. For The Recorder/Trish Crapo

  • Trish Crapo

  • “Silos and Flowers, J & J Farm” by Lori Lynn Hoffer. Courtesy Lori Lynn Hoffer

For The Recorder
Published: 10/18/2017 11:57:10 AM

For North Leverett artist Lori Lynn Hoffer, opening the door to her studio at the Leverett Crafts and Art Center is like “heaven.”

“It is the most fun thing in the world for me,” Hoffer says.

Hoffer began renting the studio space about four years ago, just as her youngest child was becoming a teenager, returning to painting after a hiatus nearly two decades long.

“I actually was lucky enough to go to grad school in Florence, Italy,” Hoffer says, but, as happens to many women artists, work and raising a family took precedence over a fine arts career. Hoffer channeled her artistic inclinations and talents into graphic design, work she still does part-time.

“I’ve talked to many women my age or around my age,” Hoffer says. “There is something around that phase of life, whether or not you’ve raised kids, whatever you’ve done, you feel like: ‘Here’s the rest of my life — what would I really like to do and work on? What would I like to express?’”

But Hoffer says that during all those years she was driving kids to and from school, “One thing I was always saying to myself was, ‘Look, look, look!’”

She laughs as she says that any of the kids in her carpool would tell you she’d often pull over to take photos of the Hadley fields or Leverett woods they traveled through. Hoffer felt she was storing up colors and compositions to use later.

Now through the end of October, an extensive show, “New Oil Paintings by Lori Lynn Hoffer,” at the Barnes Gallery at Leverett Crafts and Arts Center, 13 Montague Road, Leverett, showcases the fruits of Hoffer’s labors. The exhibit includes four brand new works that Hoffer says were still wet when she hung them.

Hoffer’s floral still lifes and rural and wooded landscapes are rendered, for the most part, in thick layers of bold colors that vibrate with an intensity that evokes Tiffany stained glass. In some instances, deep brush strokes furrow the canvas, or a peak of paint leans from it.

But what look like the black outlines of the strips of lead in stained glass are actually places where the canvas is showing through. Hoffer buys pre-stretched black canvases or, for larger pieces, will begin by painting a white canvas entirely black. The outlined effect combined with Hoffer’s jeweled colors are reminiscent of some of the earlier landscapes of Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, whose books Hoffer says she has on her studio shelves.

Hoffer describes her work as “color-driven.”

“If I’m derailed a little bit or if I don’t know what to do next I say to myself, ‘Just mix up some colors and let them say what to paint.’ That sounds a little funny but it feels that way.”

Hoffer can feel colors, she says.

“Like this shirt,” she says, lifting the hem of the bright apricot T-shirt she is wearing. “I’d rather wear this color than any other color. I feel this color. I feel good in this color.”

In one painting in a series of invented landscapes, Hoffer says she started with a red tree and then asked herself, “What colors do I want to hum or sing or vibrate with it?”

The invented landscapes allow her to work more loosely, Hoffer says, as does occasionally painting without her glasses on. Each painting teaches her something she carries on into the next, she says.

As we stand before a painting of a wooded lane deeply lined with the shadows of tree trunks, Hoffer says, “If you had asked me before I painted this, ‘Is there color in shadows?’ I would have said, ‘I’m not sure.’”

Now she knows there is.

Hoffer says she sometimes feels guilty that she is not doing more overtly socio-political work during this divisive time in America but adnits, “That is just not how I’m driven. So if what I’m really, intuitively driven towards is beauty, and reminders of what’s around us, well, we need that, too, these days.”

Yes we do.

See “New Oil Paintings by Lori Lynn Hoffer” at Barnes Gallery at Leverett Crafts and Arts Center, 13 Montague Road, Leverett. Gallery hours: Thursdays through Sundays, 1 to 6 p.m. For more info, contact LCA building and operations manager Walt Burnham, 413-548-9070 or email info@leverettcrafts.org. Find out more about Hoffer’s art at www.lorilynnfineart.com.




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