“Bo Bartlett is very American. He’s fresh, he’s gifted, and he’s what we need in this country. Bo is one of the very few I feel this strongly about.” – Andrew Wyeth
Bo Bartlett: Offshore
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
—T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, No. 1 of “Four Quartets”
For nearly three decades, artist Bo Bartlett has been celebrated as one of the best contemporary realist painters in America. Dividing his time between island homes and studios on both coasts, Bartlett creates distinctive, hauntingly beautiful paintings that reflect his deep appreciation for living close to nature, and his fascination with discovering the mysterious in the everyday.
Inspired by scenes and individuals from his personal life—including his frequent model and muse, his wife, artist Betsy Eby—Bartlett’s exquisitely drawn and crafted paintings reveal his rigorous academic training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and under the tutelage of well-known portrait artist Nelson Shanks. Additional studies in fresco painting in Florence, Italy and in anatomy at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine inform his aesthetic practice. Perhaps most compelling, however, is recognition of Bartlett’s background as a filmmaker on his approach to painting and his development as an artist.
In 1986, Bartlett graduated from New York University’s film school and shortly thereafter was offered the job of making a documentary on the life and work of artist Andrew Wyeth. For the next five years, Bartlett spent nearly every day with Wyeth. “Making the film, Snow Hill,” he says, “gave me the opportunity to learn from Andrew. It allowed me the opportunity to learn why he painted, and to ask him what motivated him, and how he stayed motivated. The process of making the film opened a door to my own life and my own path.”
Cinematically composed and skillfully edited, Bartlett’s narrative paintings are often mysterious in their intention; they suggest rather than instruct. While he admires history painting on the grand scale of Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley, he eschews their didactic tone. Instead, he says, his objective “is striking the chord of mystery that is being grappled with.”
Whether depicted simply or complexly, Bartlett’s paintings are layered in meaning. There is an arresting temporal quality to his art—an acknowledgement of the fleeting nature of life and love, and the unending quest to grasp the ineffable.
by Suzette McAvoy
Bo Bartlett’s film, SEE, premiered at the September 2013 Camden Film Festival. Read more about the film here: http://camdenfilmfest.festivalgenius.com/2013/films/see_bobartlett_camdenfilmfest2013.
The Huffington Post reviewed Bo Bartlett’s July 2013. Read the article here: Huffington Post | “Bo Bartlett” | John Seed.
The Bo Bartlett Center is opening at the College of the Arts at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. Read more about the project here: The Bo Bartlett Center, and in the Ledger Inquirer’s article here: “CSU to create Bo Bartlett Center”.
Bo Bartlett gave an artist talk at Dowling Walsh Gallery on July 31st, 2010 about his concurrent exhibition. See the video here: Bo Bartlett Artist Talk 2010
Maine Home + Design magazine featured Bo Bartlett in the July 2010 Issue. To download a PDF copy of this article, click here: 136MHD_Bartlett_lr