Gruhler Exhibit Presented through August 29

GREENSBORO – The Gallery at Highland Center for the Arts (HCA) will host an exhibit titled “Paul Gruhler’s Harmonics: 60 Years of Life in Art,” through August 29. The HCA exhibition will present Gruhler’s early work from his Chelsea Series (1963-1978).

Gruhler Chelsea Series 1965 #18, oil on canvas.

Gruhler is a dedicated Geometric Abstractionist. Over 60 years, he produced a series of paintings, drawings, and paper collages embodying the essential forms of Geometric Abstraction. Gruhler was (and remains) intrigued by the expressive nuances and subtle internal sensations stirred by such painstaking, deliberate arrangement of art’s basic elements – form, color, line, and shape – and quickly adopted this minimalist style for life-long experimentation in response to the changing world around him. His artistic drive is to make order and harmony of all that is inchoate. He paints that “visual sensation, a feeling or idea, divorced from literal representation.”

Born in 1941 in Brooklyn, Gruhler grew up in neighboring Queens. A self-taught artist, at 21, he opened his first studio in Chelsea, the flower district in lower Manhattan, in 1962. Gruhler became fully immersed in the artists’ networks and connective communities where artists, curators, intellectuals, and creative thinkers regularly gathered to passionately exchanged ideas about art.

Early in his career, Gruhler was fortunate to form relationships with prominent older artists and notably was mentored by the celebrated sculptor Michael Lekakis, who had exhibitions at the Guggenheim, the Whitney, and the Museum of Modern Art. Lekakis took the young Gruhler under his wing, helping him navigate through New York’s avant-garde art scene and introducing him to renowned artists, including Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Louise Nevelson, and Barnett Newman. Meanwhile, Gruhler’s own work was exhibited in galleries and museums in the U.S., Mexico City, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, and Sweden.

Another of Gruhler’s primary influences was Herb Auch. He introduced Gruhler to acrylic paint and to sourcing his paint by grinding his own pigments, allowing for even, deep, saturated color. Auch also shared a material that sealed the canvas, preventing paint from bleeding into the surface. Around 1975, Gruhler’s paintings showed exposed, unpainted canvas playing against saturated color forms. He practices this method still today.

Gruhler’s third main influence was Harold Weston, a powerful force in the art world. Both a celebrated, widely exhibited painter and a social activist, Weston and his wife, Faith, were Gruhler’s first patrons and, according to Gruhler, his intellectual parents. They, too, introduced him to the extensive art world and recommended him for many grants and gallery shows.

Gruhler’s Chelsea period, the work produced between 1963-1978, represents an education, an evolution, and a confirmed dedication to Geometric Abstraction. He stayed the course in his experimentation and representation of geometric abstraction for 60 years.

Gruhler moved to Vermont in 1993 and now lives in Craftsbury. He continues to work daily in his studio overlooking Vermont’s Green Mountains. Gruhler’s paintings are held in numerous national and international collections, both public and private.

A catalog, “Paul Gruhler, Harmonics: 60 Years of Life in Art,” accompanies this exhibit. The catalog will be available at the Gallery during the exhibition. It features an essay on Paul Gruhler’s work by Carolyn Bauer, associate curator, Shelburne Museum.For additional information contact: maureen@highlandartsvt.org.