I have to admit that I was not familiar with the artist Henry Meloy. First the bare bone facts:
- born 1902 in Townsend, Montana; died 1951, just as he was beginning to attain representation by NYC art galleries.
- trained at the Art Institute of Chicago, the New York City Art Institute, National Academy of Design in New York City, and the Art Students League, where he graduated in 1929
- worked as an illustrator of books, "western pulp" and other types of magazines, as well as a fine art painter
- taught at Columbia University 1940 -1951
The drawings, paintings and ceramics that Barry saw were of a more modest scale. Early in Meloy's career he drew in a traditional realistic manner, and developed steady business as an illustrator.
New York City has always been a hotbed of creative energy. The two and a half decades that Meloy lived there (mid-1920s - 1951) was no exception. Among Meloy's avant-garde friends, Willem de Kooning, Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollack, Frank Mechau, and George Grosz. Associations like this had a decided effect, by the late 1940s his work had become increasingly expressive and abstract. There is certainly an Asian influence in the work as well. What I find interesting is the continual re-imagining of a particular pose, as can be seen in the following images. (Please ignore the shadowy ball-capped fellow, that's just Barry's reflection!)
According to a placard in the exhibit, "(Henry) Meloy shared his interest in horses with brother Peter Meloy, co-founder of the Archie Bray Foundation (for the Ceramic Arts)... Peter formed the ceramics Henry decorated them with horse and other motifs in glaze."
The placard sums up, "Meloy's fascination with beautiful horses, so strongly tied to his background in the American West, contained a strong element of self-identification. In no other thematic series does he allow such a bold play of expressionistic color and brushwork or convey such raw emotional intensity. The horse series also provided a vehicle for his abstracting tendencies, almost a textbook study of the journey from realism to non-figurative art."
Fifty-seven years after his death, Henry Meloy is receiving warm appreciation in his home state. Earlier this year, Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings hosted an exhibit of his portraits.
We should all school ourselves to get pleasure out of the commonplace, for therein lie the ingredients of true romance.
--Henry Meloy, 1925
Great advice, thanks Henry!