Wednesday, December 11, 2013
This is an excerpt from the film series, Maine Masters. For more information on this feature of Beverly Hallam go to www.mainemasters.com
Beverly Hallam approached her artwork with the curiosity of a scientist, ever eager to incorporate new techniques and technologies into her art-making processes.
In this January 1998 file photo, Beverly Hallam works in her York studio. Hallam, a Maine arts pioneer, has died at age 89.
Doug Jones / Staff File Photo
Beverly Hallam's "Golden Splendor." Hallam was most famous for her detailed and intricate airbrush paintings of flowers.
Courtesy the University of New England Art Gallery
Best known for her pioneering use of the airbrush and, later in life, for embracing digital abstract images, Hallam died Thursday at the age of 89 at her home on Surf Point Road in York.
Hallam had been sick for several years, with a progressive lung disease.
In August 2011, she told the Portland Press Herald that she still enjoyed working "when the spirit moves me."
Her longtime confidante and best friend, Mary-Leigh Smart, said Hallam suffered a stroke Wednesday morning that partially paralyzed her. She died the next morning.
"She was blessed that she didn't have to linger long like that," Smart said. "I can't imagine her surviving and being paralyzed."
A painter, printmaker and lifelong educator, Hallam was a key member of Ogunquit's art community and was known nationally as a pioneering postwar female artist.
Her career included several milestones that distinguished her from her peers. She was an early proponent of acrylic paint and became one of the medium's most accomplished purveyors. She mastered the art of monotype printmaking and became most famous for her detailed and intricate airbrush paintings of flowers.
Her flower paintings are rich in detail and exact in color, often showing sunlight refracted through glass vases, shadows on walls and tabletops, and the intricate precision of petals, stamens, stems and seeds.
She took a centuries-old subject of still-life painting and applied modern techniques in ways that no one had tried, said Carl Little, a Maine arts writer.
Hallam's mastery of the airbrush was both unexpected and thrilling, Little said, and gave her "the grand point of her life. Who saw that coming? I don't think anybody did, except you knew she would do something great for her next act."
Her flower paintings are in museums across the country, including nearly every museum in Maine.
In Rockland, the Farnsworth Art Museum will hang her 1985 painting "Orange Prince" as a tribute to her Monday.
"She was one of the most accomplished realist painters of her generation," said Farnsworth Curator Michael Komanecky.
Near the end of her life, when her strength faded and some of her other facilities began to fail, Hallam used a keyboard, a video monitor and a color printer to make abstract images.
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