Judith Durr - Sharlot Hall Museum
"PAINT" Breaking the Buckskin Ceiling
The Judith Durr exhibition opens as part of the ongoing PAINT! Breaking the Buckskin Ceiling exhibition in the John and Helen Lawler Exhibit Center Gallery at the museum. Durr, recognized for her realism
Treasures - 16x20 SOLD
'PAINT' Breaking the Buckskin Ceiling
For four months (2009-2010), twenty-five paintings by Judith Durr graced the walls of Sharlot Hall Museum, Prescott, Arizona. The "Durr Gallery"became a virtual refuge of brilliant color and artistic genius. Judith's work was a featured part of the museum's four one-artist shows under the banner Paint! Breaking the Buckskin Ceiling. Judith's segment, Enduring Legacy, pleasured us all and taught us the meaning of patience and beauty. At the show's opening, I was privileged to introduce Judith Durr to a large audience of patrons and museum members, who came to something fresh and surprising. Most of them returned to visit many times over the winter - a room that became a refuge from storms and the browing of an Arizona world clothed in a winters's deep sleep.
There had been rare moments in my life where I stood montionless, almost not breathing, in front of great artistic work. In my opinion, there is one reason to revisit Los Angeles's Getty Museum -Jan van Huysum (1682-1749), a Dutch painter who painted still life in thin oil glazes, capturing the brillian colors of flowers at the perfect time of fullness, and fruit so lustrously overripe you could believe they would burst their skins. But there was more to van Huysum. His clever use of insects and decay drew you ever into the paintings, and in your gut - you felt the movement of time and the greatest lesson in life - beauty is beauiful, and it fades. That was the same suspension I felt standing across, gazing at Judith's painted layer upon layer of beaded moccasins, her brush -stroked bristle from a hand run across a Navajo weaving, and the detailed subtle remnants of a polishing stones scratches in an old Pueblo pot. "
Van Huysum took years to complete a single work of art. So too, one of Judith's still life paintings takes months to apply the pin points of paint to make her works leap from the canvas. Here is no hack commercial art that justifiably provokes the reputation - "Death by Santa Fe-style! There are a few Indian artists who attempt to imitate traditional native art by committing the subject to painting, but their work is tritely directed towards matching a buyer's couch or bedspread. These works could barely be classified as "decorative." On the other hand, there is a Judith Durr and her paintings are real fine art.
Of course I encouraged Judith to apply for Indian market, hoping she would come. This marketplace is a heavily juried show and the jury are themselves practicing American Indian artists who volunteer their time to choose only a hundred artists from among several hundred applicants. One of the judes, an accomplished painter, knew Judith and her work. The other jurists, those involved in jewelry, pottery, sculpture, and traditional native arts, did not. When her slides went up on the screen, the Navajo blanket backdrop defied the two-dimensions of canvas. "My God! Where's she been hiding?" commented one of the jewelry judges. The painter quipped - "That's Judith! She makes me want to go back to art school!"
For several years Judith and Roger came to our marketplace - stopping traffic in front of her booth. Not only was her work fabulous, so too was the creator. There is a calm warmth and lovingness inside Judith and her husband Roger, Judith 's most ardent fan, making them both popular and favored. When the museum's Exhibit Committee proposed to have an art show championing American Indian artists who were artists first - and "by the way, Indian" - Judith's name came to the top alongside Jessie T. Hummingbird, Baje Whitethorne, Jr., and Michael Kabotie.
I wish there was more I could do to promote Judith Durr- more than I could do to spread her gift to a world of people to appreciate fine art. She has enriched my life, and all the lives of people who now know her and come repeatedly to see her incredible art. "
Sandra Lynch, Ph D - Curator of Anthropology, Exhibit Curatro for Paint! Breaking the Buckskin Ceiling - Sharlot Hall Museum, Smithsonian affilliate, Prescott, Arizona.