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Songs of the Prairie
November 11, 2014 - January 25, 2015
Morris Gallery of Contemporary Art
Henderson's painting career spans almost 40 years, and his recent work continues a trajectory inspired by his lifelong exploration of the blues. "Painting, like music, comes from the ground," he states. "It comes through you and out of you, and you don't possess it. At any time it can leave you."
His recent oil paintings, subdued in color yet rich in texture, teeter on the edge of imagery and chaos. The artist carves into thick layers of paint with pallet knives or smears colors together with big brushes, creating visual moments reminiscent of the rhythms or guitar licks often featured in blues music. Known for his vibrant palette, Henderson's recent paintings instead feature subdued, natural tones, though glimpses of bright reds or blues can be seen peaking through layers of brown, white, or beige. This tension, along with the artist's intuitive gestural marks, activates a physical and intellectual dialogue between painting and viewer.
Born in Marshall, Missouri, in 1944, Mike Henderson earned a B.F.A. in 1969 and an M.F.A. in 1970 from the San Francisco Art Institute. Henderson received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1973 and is two-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Award. More recently, he was a recipient of the 2003/2004 Flintridge Foundation Award for Visual Artists. he has exhibited in such distinguished institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Crocker Art Museum. Henderson is an an accomplished blues guitarist and has performed at music halls and festivals around the world.