Mary Henry: American Constructivist

Mary Henry is a highly regarded Washington painter who creates large scale, abstract works based on geometric shapes and patterns. A major exhibition of Henry's work, created over the past 20 years, opens Nov. 13 and continues through Jan. 8 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem.

Born in Sonoma, Calif., in 1913, Henry studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts in the 1930s, where she received her BFA degree in 1938. In the 1940s, she studied with Moholy-Nagy at the Illinois Institute of Design. She received her MFA degree in 1946. She returned to California in 1950 to work as a painter.

In 1976, Henry attended a master class with New York artist Jack Tworkov at the Centrum Foundation in Port Townsend, and it was there that she met Seattle artists Joan Ross Bloedel and Lois Graham, who brought her work to the attention of Seattle curators, critics, and dealers. Since the early 1980s, she has lived and worked on the southern tip of Whidbey Island and, at 91, continues to paint every day.

Although her work remains firmly rooted in the fundamental principles of constructivism and geometric abstract art, Henry prefers not to associate with any particular art movement or style. As she has commented, "I do not put labels on my kind of painting...I just paint shapes and colors in relationships that excite and satisfy me. Hopefully, others will feel as I do and get a lift of excitement when they come upon one of my paintings on a wall. I want my work to exude a visual strength and beauty."

As a special feature, artist and curator Greg Bell will give an illustrated slide lecture about Henry's art and life on Friday, Nov. 12, from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Roger Hull Lecture Hall; a preview reception will follow from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located at 700 State Street (corner of State and Cottage Streets) in downtown Salem near the campus of Willamette University. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Sunday and Monday. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and students. Children under 12 are admitted free and Tuesday is an admission free day.

For further information, please call 503-370-6855.