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Lynne Mapp Drexler HER WAY

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LYNNE MAPP DREXLER HER WAY J. Kenneth Fine Art & Estate Collection



LYNNE MAPP DREXLER HER WAY Essays by John Kenneth Alexander & Rick and Sue Miller The publisher would like to thank Rick and Sue Miller for their continued generous support, and the Fromer-McCree Living Trust's philanthropic contribution in the publishing of this catalog. Edition II Copyright 2022 J. Kenneth Fine Art & Estate Collection All Rights Reserved Images copyright Lynne Mapp Drexler Estate www.jkennethfineart.comw

Now, there's the beginning of...of my finding myself. Now, that would be '60 or '61. 1 A mysterious figure within the history of the Abstract Expressionist movement of the '50s and '60s, Lynne Mapp Drexler holds a special place among artists who were present during the pivotal moments of the post-war art world, yet were intentionally ignored and purposefully forgotten. Like other talented artists who were well trained by the era's finest teachers, Drexler was a member of the New York School and a participant in America's first major art movement. Abstract Expressionism had become renowned for the mythos and machismo of artists such as Jackson Pollock, a figure who had come to dominate the image of the movement and reinforce its aggressive \"masculine\" characterization. Drexler, like many women of the '50s and '60s, were often eclipsed by their male counterparts. Even though their work was executed with as much competence and training, women tended to be disregarded in the male-dominated gallery scene of New York. The recent resurgence of interest in Drexler and other women like her has brought many of these artists out of the shadows with a new sense of discovery and appreciation. Drexler's legacy had been a footnote in the pages of art history as an artist who abandoned the art politics of New York in favor of a more genuine life on a remote island. She would later stoically remark, \"I was not on the political fast track. I cannot make friends for gain.\" 2 Drexler may have left the center of the art world, but through the hard times and difficult choices, ultimately, she did it her way. John Kenneth Alexander

Violet Sunlight oil on canvas, 1962 30 x 50 inches Collection of Doug and Jaimee Baker, California

I've always felt deeply within myself that I was a damn good artist, though the world didn't recognize me as such. I wasn't about to play their game.3

HER WAY Southern-born Lynne Mapp Drexler found her artistic voice during one of the most exciting and significant art movements of the 20th century. Born in Newport News, Virginia, in 1928, Drexler began her study of art as a child. Her parents, who were very supportive of both the visual and performing arts, enrolled Drexler in various art courses. After attending the College of William and Mary, Drexler became interested in contemporary art. She was encouraged to explore this venue by her uncle, who had ties to the Hudson River School of painting, and by some of her more influential teachers. After moving to New York in 1956, Drexler immersed herself in the world of Abstract Expressionism studying with Hans Hofmann in both his Provincetown and New York schools. It would be Hofmann's work as a colorist and his theories on color that would be one of Drexler's most significant influences. She eventually went on to study with another well known artist and teacher, Robert Motherwell, at Hunter College. His intellectual views on Abstract Expressionism guided Drexler's own process of creating art. Her academic training from Motherwell, along with the lessons of color theory from Hofmann, would set the foundation for the style of painting for which she is known. Drexler's swatch-like patterns and painterly blossoms of color are quite unique when compared to her contemporaries of the Abstract Expressionist genre. By 1961, Drexler would have her first solo show at the Tanager Gallery. In 1961, Drexler married painter John Hultberg, whom she met at the Artists Club. The couple was already integrated into the bohemian lifestyle of the New York art scene. They frequented various hubs of activity including the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village which had been a gathering place for New York's avant-garde painters, poets and musicians such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, among many others. To occasionally escape the pressures of New York, Hultberg's art dealer, Martha Jackson, bought him a house on Monhegan Island, Maine, which had a small summer art colony. For Drexler, summering on the island would be a major sea-change in her life. The solitude of the island and the inspiration of the natural surroundings would impact her artistic career. Drexler would sketch outdoors on the island. Back in New York during the winters, these sketches were reimagined into large colorful abstract paintings. Drexler's life-long passion for music would come to define her creative expression. She would frequent the opera, with sketchbook in hand, for inspiration. ...that's what got me to painting a whole series of abstract paintings. I would sit and draw through the opera...to the music. It was just the soaring...the gloriousness of the music. The beauty, the power, and the glory of it. 4 Throughout the mid-'60s, Drexler and Hultberg traveled extensively to places such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and the islands of Hawaii. While in Los Angeles, Drexler created a series of lithographs at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop. Many of her paintings from this time period have titles that directly correlate with the places where she traveled. In 1967, Drexler and Hultberg returned to New York. They moved into the Chelsea Hotel which was a mecca for the arts community.

Unlike her male counterparts, Drexler found it difficult finding gallery representation in the gender- biased atmosphere of the New York gallery world. Hultberg, on the other hand, was quite successful and was considered a talented up-and-comer as an abstract artist. The relationship between Drexler and Hultberg was often tumultuous and the couple would routinely separate throughout their lives. Although respectful of one another's work, they would continue to grow distant. As the mid-'60s approached, the movement of Abstract Expressionism was coming-to-a-close, being replaced by Pop Art and, shortly there-after, Op Art. At some point in Drexler's painting career, Abstract Expressionism had become artistically \"bankrupt\" for her.5 She would also lament that \"[New York] was no longer a place of stimulation for me. I had no respect for most of the artists working there. They were out to make it. They had no commitment to art.\" 6 Drexler was already making her own natural transition to abstract landscape painting. Many of her paintings created just after 1962 are clearly inspired by the landscape with the concepts of musical elements helping to guide the pictorial arrangements. Drexler's affinity with nature and music became deeply intertwined in her work. Influenced by her love of pattern, decoration and fabric, she also began to incorporate textiles into her paintings. Unhappy with the male-dominated art system and art politics of New York, Drexler finally moved permanently to Monhegan Island in 1983. She had become an integral member of the year-round island community. Of the island she would say, \"There is no isolation in a place like this--impossible to find--but solitude is respected. I had all the time to work I needed\", and of the islanders, \"I like the people out here...they are not dull.\" 7 The remoteness and solitude of the island would impact her work. Her paintings often reflect the everyday routines of life such as views from her windows, interior views of her house and even chores such as hanging laundry. The still life also became an important subject in Drexler's repertoire, often floral arrangements peppered with dolls from her collection. These depictions came to symbolize her acceptance and appreciation for her life on the island. Drexler summed up her painting career on the island in her distinctive southern drawl, \"I sell enough here to make a living off of. I am not rich...but I have what I want. I mean as long as I have food, heat, roof over my head, food for the cat, and paint I am happy. Oh and Jack Daniel's.\" 8 When Drexler was diagnosed with cancer and given a prognosis of three to six months to live, her biggest fear was that she would have to die on shore. Her closest friends became her hospice care group which allowed her the dignity of staying on the island. Drexler passed away in 1999 on Monhegan Island surrounded by her friends and fellow islanders. Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' was playing in the background and it was observed by her friends that she did expire during the revelous drinking scene. After her death, the estate had been bequeathed to her friends who were charged with the difficult task of assessing her body of work. While extracting the many paintings from the Drexler house, the executors of the estate, as well as the townspeople, were shocked to realize the magnitude and multitude of paintings. Works of art not seen for decades were pulled from the basement, closets and even from under mattresses. It was revealed that Drexler, who was very hesitant to talk about her career as an artist in New York, had not divulged the fact that these paintings even existed, including masterpieces from the era of Abstract Expressionism. The first comprehensive exhibition of Drexler's work ran at the Monhegan Museum in 2008 and also at the Portland Museum of Art in 2008 and 2009. The exhibition was organized by the Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum Association. Since then, her work has been exhibited widely in New York, Chicago and Palm Springs, California. In 2018, a comprehensive European exhibition of the women of Abstract Expressionism, which included Drexler, occurred in London.

Untitled I had started working in crayon before I had met [Hans Hofmann], that is of course, what he drew oil crayon and watercolor on paper, 1961 in. But my inspiration there was [Henry Moore], 19 x 25 inches who drew in crayon in the subways or the underground of London during the air raids. And Collection of Maureen Shapiro & Ben Rosenthal, then he washed his drawings with ink, which I did California [in] some of mine...but I never liked pastels because you had to fix them and they were pastel! I liked more body to my color. 9

Untitled gouache on paper, 1960 19 x 24.5 inches

Untitled I like to get the push and pull of the space..1.0 gouache on paper, 1960 Underpinning Drexler's dynamic compositions 19 x 24.5 inches and bold color palette are the techniques of Hans Hofmann's \"Push and Pull\" theory which establishes the relationship between color, form and space, achieving the illusion of depth, movement and spatial tension through abstraction.

Untitled gouache on paper, 1960 19 x 24 inches

Untitled gouache on paper, 1960 19 x 24.5 inches

Untitled gouache on paper, 1959 13 x 17 inches Private collection, California

Untitled gouache on paper, 1960 19 x 24.5 inches Collection of Geoff and Erin Melhuish, Massachusetts

Purple Nude oil on canvas, 1957 18 c 24 inches

Painter and teacher Robert Motherwell directly influenced Drexler's attitude and approach to art, including her work ethic and early painting style. Drexler admired him for his intellect, stating that he had \"the finest mind I have ever met in the world.\" 11 Untitled ink on paper, 1957 9 x 12 inches

Feather Blue oil on canvas, 1968 55 x 42 inches Collection of Rick & Sue Miller, California

Window onto valley lithograph in colors on paper, 1963 Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles, California edition of 20 on Rives BFK paper edition of 9 Tamarind impressions on Inomachi Nacre paper 3 AP, PP collaborating/edition printer: Jason Leese 19.75 x 20.75 inches Museum Collections: Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, NM

Jomo's Vision oil on canvas, 1967 40 x 30 inches Private collection, Texas

Profuse Place oil on canvas, 1967 40 x 30 inches Private collection, California

Stumps oil on canvas, 1966 42 x 30 inches Private collection, California

San Pablo Bay oil on canvas, 1964 30 x 40 inches Private collection, California

MONHEGAN ISLAND Many artists seem to be inexplicably linked to a locale where their creativity came into its fulfillment, such as Monet in Giverny, where he lived the last forty years of his life; Van Gogh in Southern France; Gauguin in the South Pacific. So it is with Lynne Mapp Drexler. Following her education and early career in New York City, she had transitioned to Monhegan Island on a full time basis in 1983 and continued to reside there for the remainder of her life. As a collector of Lynne's work, we felt it altogether fitting and proper to make a pilgrimage to Monhegan Island to better understand what drove her inspiration and creativity. Traveling there in the fall of 2015, we crossed the water on the ferry with anticipation. We were immediately immersed in the natural beauty of the island and awesome power and hues of the ocean. Hiking the trails, capturing the views and perspectives, we could understand the inspiration she received for so much of her amazing colors in all of her works. Walking the paths and trails, stepping into what she might have seen and observed from an artist's perspective, it truly became a pilgrimage to understand and appreciate her portfolio of art created over a span of so many years. Rick and Sue Miller I came to believe in myself and my own inner resourcefulness. Living here revealed a strength and depth in me I didn't know I had. Recognition, fame, and applause became trappings that were no longer important, and I opted out of a competitive situation that had nothing to do with what I was trying for in my art. When you live here you learn to see who you really are. You are very close to nature, and nature clarifies you to yourself. At night I feel a sense of awe in the way the black ocean stretches out to meet the black sky, and I'm aware of what it means to live in a universe. Everything here is reduced to essentials. I've forgotten how to act on shore. On shore is the false reality. Here, is the true reality. 12 Lynne Mapp Drexler

Monhegan Island

Advise them I'd become a hermit -- an eccentric one and that I only come to NYC when provided with orchestra tickets to the Met, clubhouse tickets to the race track and absolutely no talk of art or the scene. 13 Green Gage I oil on canvas, 1959 14 x 17.5 inches Collection of the Frmer-McCree Living Trust, Utah

MUSEUM MUSEUM COLLECTIONS Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, ME Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME Greenville County Museum, Greenville, SC Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC Monhegan Museum, Monhegan, ME Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME Provincetown Art Association Museum, Provincetown, MA Queens Museum, Queens, NY Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, NM University Museum of Contemporary Art, Amherst, MA SELECTED PRIVATE COLLECTIONS Doug and Jaimee Baker Collection, CA Fromer-McCree Living Trust, UT Portrait of Drexler by Robert Field John Legend and Chrissy Teigen Collection, NY Geoff and Erin Melhuish Collection, MA Rick and Sue Miller Collection, CA ENDNOTES Terry and Penny Peterson Collection, CA 1 Mohegan Museum audio tape interview, 1998. Hereafter Maureen Shapiro and Ben Rosenthal Collection, CA quotes shall be referred to as Drexler Oral History. Pamela and Steven Wexler Collection, CA 2-6 Roger Amory, Lynne Drexler: A Life in Color Ellen Zeman and Paul Hale Collection, VT (Monhegan Museum & Pound of Tea Productions, 2008). 7 & 8 Monhegan Museum, Lynne Drexler: Painter SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS (Rockland, ME: Custom Museum Publishing, 2008), 48, 57. 9 Tralice Peck Bracy & Beth Van Houten, Monhegan Museum 1961 Tanager Gallery, New York, NY video interview, 1998. 1965 Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 10 Drexler Oral History. 1967 Nuuana Gallery, Honolulu, HI 11 Drexler Oral History. 12 James R. Aubrey, John Fowles and Nature: Fourteen 1970,71,72,73 Alonzo Gallery, New York, NY Perspectives on Landscape (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson 1983 Aldona Gobuzas Gallery, New York, NY University Press, 1999), 58. 1989 Judith Leighton Gallery, Blue Hill, ME 13 Letter written to Bruce Greig from Drexler; Monhegan 2003 Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, ME Museum archives. 2005 Greenhut Galleries, Portland, ME 2008 Monhegan Museum, Monhegan, ME 2008 Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME 2010 McCormick Gallery, Chicago, IL 2016,17,18,19,20 J. Kenneth Fine Art & Estate Collection, CA

ENDNOTES 1 Mohegan Museum audio tape interview, 1998. Hereafter quotes shall be referred to as Drexler Oral History. 2-6 Roger Amory, Lynne Drexler: A Life in Color (Monhegan Museum & Pound of Tea Productions, 2008). 7 & 8 Monhegan Museum, Lynne Drexler: Painter (Rockland, ME: Custom Museum Publishing, 2008), 48, 57. 9 Tralice Peck Bracy & Beth Van Houten, Monhegan Museum video interview, 1998. 10 Drexler Oral History. 11 Drexler Oral History. 12 James R. Aubrey, John Fowles and Nature: Fourteen Perspectives on Landscape (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999), 58. 13 Letter written to Bruce Greig from Drexler; Monhegan Museum archives. www.jkennethfineart.com


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