Beth Van Hoesen had an affinity for both wild and domestic animals, along with the capacity to delve into their fundamental natures.
She related a story about a conversation with a friend that took place after a two-week period in which the artist had chased her cat this way and that to get several good drawings. Her friend said of the renderings: “You’ve sentimentalized the cat,” to which Van Hoesen replied: “No, that’s the way she looked.” Then her friend commented: “You’ve anthropomorphized her,” to which the artist responded again, “No, that’s the way she looked.”
What Van Hoesen’s friend missed was the artist’s extraordinary capacity to recognize and visually record the attributes that endear animals to humans and the degree to which we see ourselves in them.
Van Hoesen’s animals are compelling, but a survey of her images reveals that they are physically accurate. Like humans, some of her animals appear cantankerous, some timid and still others, content. But each is presented as the artist observed it, an isolated individual living within its unique world.