Dimond Leslie, a senior studio art major, looks at the paintings "Man at a Table" by Robert LaHotan, left, and "Self Portrait" by John Heliker, right, on display on April 13, 2016. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau/University)

Brenau Art Emphasis Held ‘in High Regard’

Patrons look at the work oh John Heliker during the opening of "The Order of Things" in the Sellars Gallery on Brenau's historic Gainesville campus. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Patrons look at the work oh John Heliker during the opening of “The Order of Things” in the Sellars Gallery on Brenau’s historic Gainesville campus. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Last fall, Brenau Galleries put on one of the several exhibitions it does each year on campus, but this one was a retrospective of the remarkable career of  John Heliker, who died in 2000 at age 91 after about seven decades as a pillar of the New York art world. For more than 30 of those years, he taught painting at Columbia University and the Parsons School.  

Extremely pleased with the program, Patricia Bailey, the executive director and treasurer of the New York and Maine-based Heliker-LaHotan Foundation, said that exhibition prompted her and others on the foundation board to do something for Brenau in return. It donated to the university’s permanent collection of art two paintings: Heliker’s 1988 Self Portrait and Man at a Table, a self-portrait by Heliker’s former Columbia pupil and 40-year life companion Robert LaHotan.

Brenau’s relationship with the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation began serendipitously. University President Ed Schrader on a holiday trip wandered into a gallery in Asheville, North Carolina, that was exhibiting Heliker’s work. He liked it, left a business card for Bailey, and a message that he wanted to get that same show at Brenau. However, the Brenau exhibition added other artistic elements, like dance and music. The exhibition drew a good crowd and introduce many students and others in the community who’d never heard of Heliker before nor new much about his influence and influencers.

“We hold Brenau University in high regard,” said Bailey, who personally delivered the paintings to the Gainesville campus in late March. “Learning more about the university and its people has been a pleasure.”

'Man at a Table' by Robert LaHotan, left, and 'Self Portrait' by Joseph Heliker. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau/University)
‘Man at a Table’ by Robert LaHotan, left, and ‘Self Portrait’ by Joseph Heliker. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau/University)

The Heliker-LaHotan Foundation added two pieces to Brenau’s permanent collection – self-portraits by American artists John Heliker and Robert LaHotan.

Read more about the founder of Brenau’s radio station in Heliker-LaHotan Foundation Presents Brenau Self-Portraits of Influential 20th Century Artists.

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