For Beth Van Hoesen, drawing was like breathing. She began when she was a small child in Boise and honed her skill throughout her lifetime. During the years she studied at art schools and universities in the United States, Mexico and France, Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting were all the rage; yet, Van Hoesen wasn’t seduced by their siren song. Instead, she discovered that her passion for drawing fit perfectly with the meticulousness and rigorous demands of printmaking, particularly intaglio media such as etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint and mezzotint.
While studying at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, she met and married fellow art student, Mark Adams. They renovated an old fire station in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood where they lived and worked for 46 years. Although her work never coincided with any trend or movement, Van Hoesen’s insistence on rendering her subjects exactly as she saw them – following the dictates of her own creativity – earned her the respect and admiration of fellow artists, critics and collectors. She was recognized as a consummate printmaker, but the breadth of her interest in drawing was recognized only after her death. She left hundreds of both preparatory and finished, standalone drawings.
Van Hoesen had an incredible ability to give complete concentration to each subject, rendering their characters with an economy of essential languid, lyrical lines. But, her special gift lay in her capacity to see poetry in the contours of the people, animals and objects that surrounded her every day.
Beth Van Hoesen: Lyrical Line would not have been possible without the generosity of the E. Mark Adams and Beth Van Hoesen Trust and the genial expertise of its curator-in-charge, Anne Kohs. CCAM is grateful to Lynette Pohlman, Allison Sheridan and Adrienne Gennett, of Iowa State University’s University Museums, for the loan of drawings and prints from its Beth Van Hoesen Collection.
And as always, we are indebted to our founders, Karen and Robert Duncan, for graciously continuing to share their art, hearts and resources with the citizens of Southwest Iowa.