“Moving Pictures,” internationally acclaimed artist Henry Isaacs’ eighth solo show with Gleason Fine Art in Boothbay Harbor, opens Thursday, Aug. 1, and runs through Tuesday, Sept. 3. On Friday, Aug. 2, from 4 to 5 p.m., at the gallery, Isaacs and author/arts writer Dan Kany will hold a book talk and signing of their new book, “Travel Notes: The Paintings of Henry Isaacs.” That will be immediately followed from 5 to 7 p.m. by a gala reception for Henry.
Planning “Moving Pictures” began in the fall of 2018. After weeks of troubling and mysterious symptoms, Isaacs had finally received a diagnosis that he was suffering from an MS-type neurological disorder. We all hoped that Henry would be able to continue painting on the grand scale that he loved and had become famous for the world over.
In early 2019, Isaacs was offered the commission of a lifetime—to travel to Nepal to paint the Himalayas. The commission was staggering, both in logistics and in accomplishing the task of capturing in paint the vastness of the mountain range. Except for one relatively obscure artist, the Russian mystic Nicholas Roerich, no other artist had tackled painting the Himalayas in depth, let alone an artist who was in his late 60s and partially mobility impaired.
Isaacs was unsure about the commission—could he do it at all, let alone do it well? Furthermore, his friends and family, worried about how he would maneuver in a world of thin air and villages built on steep inclines, tried to talk him out of it.
But Isaacs felt that he just had to accept the commission; that to not do so would haunt him forever. It took some convincing, but eventually Henry’s wife Donna agreed to the challenge too. They would hire a guide and spend a month going from village to village, with Henry painting his studies, which he calls “travel notes,” constantly as they moved about.
The result is “Moving Pictures,” a show of over 30 of Isaacs’ paintings, finished works as well as travel notes. The monumental paintings of the Himalayas and Nepal are sublime: “Henry’s Nepal works represent the culmination of what he’s been trying to do. It’s all been pointing toward this moment, this body of work” (Dennis Gleason, July 2019). The show also includes a selection of paintings done in such diverse places as Capitol Island, Maine; the Eastern Promenade in Portland; and Stinson Beach, California.
The happy irony is that instead of being overwhelmed by the Himalayas, Isaacs was energized as he had never been before: “Unsure about the undertaking at first, in hindsight, the Nepal project became the ideal reboot for Isaacs. From the moment he touched brush to canvas in Nepal, his work exploded with new possibilities” (Dan Kany, July 2019).
“Henry Isaacs: Moving Pictures” opens Aug. 1 and runs through Sept. 3. Both the show catalog and the book, “Travel Notes: The Paintings of Henry Isaacs,” are available through the gallery. Gleason Fine Art is Henry Isaacs’ sole American gallery.
The gallery is located at 31 Townsend Avenue in Boothbay Harbor. Gallery owners are Dennis and Marty Gleason; staff are Andrew Gleason and Diana Kerr. Summer hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For further information, call the gallery at 633-6849; email the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org; or view the gallery’s entire inventory, and all of Henry’s Isaacs’ paintings, at gleasonfineart.com