“The Journey to Now”
Barbara Hawes b. 1955 in Houston, Texas, spent most of her early years in Darien, Connecticut.
At a young age she proved her determination and desire to go to art school by hopping on the 7:02am train to New York every morning to take a year-long, 4-hour figure drawing class at the Art Students’ League. She continued on to MECA where she received her BFA, and upon graduation won a scholarship residency to the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture.
Then came the ‘80’s- it was New York City and a heady time in the art scene. Hawes worked at two blue-chip galleries, Midtown and Marlborough, consecutively, while living at the Hotel Chelsea, and receiving critical acclaim with her own work. However, as late nights at the Limelight turned into sunrise on 23rd Street, life in “the city that never sleeps” began to lose its appeal. So it was back to Connecticut where she resumed painting in a century-old factory studio in Stamford, and took on the role of assistant to the pre-eminent American artist, Helen Frankenthaler. During this time her work evolved into the two themes which became her signature—large Tang Dynasty horses and vibrant tulips. As a consequence of two solo exhibitions and open studio event, selections from this period went into several important collections, including G.E. Capital.
End of the ‘90’s. End of the Stamford studio. A period of darkness leading to a profound personal transformation. New Haven. New chapter: Into the Light.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
The journey that brought her to New Haven 17 years ago, and which she has walked ever since, is the true story. Her first job out of rehab—sales clerk at local art store, building a loyal following of custom-framing customers, and then a natural segue into running a gallery and creating a popular salon-style destination for regional artists. She curated 18 exhibitions in three years, but at the price of her studio practice. It was time to reclaim her painting career.
And then came Italy. May of 2015. The opening up. Painting intensive workshop in Farnese.
Winter of 2016 was spent painting in almost total seclusion, producing a new body of work for an exhibition that opened on May 1st at mActivity in New Haven. Her first exhibition in almost 20 years, made more poignant with news of her father’s passing at the age of 93 two weeks before the opening. That work, a series of floral work bursting with color and joy, is an exuberant testimony of recovery. They represent the rich inheritance of the journey out of darkness into the exultant light. She was thrilled to invite old and new friends and patrons you into her Garden of Beauty, born out of a deep, rich soil.