Summer Solstice Brings Book Release, Exhibit About Controversial Kentucky Artist

He was a rebel with a cause.

A gay rights activist in the repressive culture of the 1930s and 1940s America. An advocate of organic farming decades before the concept became mainstream. An artist whose sublime sophistication was often overshadowed by outrageous antics like cross-dressing and traveling with a pet nanny goat – charismatic and underestimated. A marketing genius. A Jack Kerouac devotee who lent his voice to the political movements of his youth. An artist whose body of work has continually gained relevance in the nearly 40 years since he was killed in an automobile accident.

Henry Lawrence Faulkner.

A symbolist in the Euro style of Mid-Century art (even though he lived in America and was rooted in the Bluegrass and Key West, FL), this prolific and internationally renowned Kentucky artist backed up his boast – “I am endowed with that gift of color and personal touch which makes my art more than ordinary” – by creating art for the ages. Some 5,000 pieces, in fact.

Faulkner purposely sought timelessness, mounting new works in antique frames that left viewers puzzling: Is it old? Is it new?

It didn’t matter; Faulkner’s work was always now.

He created an organic base of people who loved his work, from Hollywood celebrities, including Bette Davis, Greta Garbo and Marlon Brando, to appreciative collectors in Cincinnati who couldn’t seem to get enough of his work. He hung out with playwright Tennessee Williams, expat poet Ezra Pound and Midnight Cowboy author James Leo Herlihy.

And always, he challenged, pushed the envelope, acted outrageously – but it was all part of a masterfully crafted persona, performance art for the sake of his art.

Excerpt of Henry Faulkner’s Poetry:

Green are the eyes of God
Sweet mint breath of April . . .
Transparent green of high yellow . . .
Day hangs like the kite of God
In the Apple trees,
He is the child of April
And the world of green earth
Is his imagination !
Spring is that letter from him
We have long waited . . .
 In which he asks . . . if we
have tasted April . . . In the grass !!

 – Henry Lawrence Faulkner

Everything that Faulkner was and continues to be will be celebrated on Thurs., June 21, at Irish Acres Gallery, during an exhibition of Faulkner’s limited edition giclée prints and new book release of the page-turning narrative, The Gift of Color: Henry Lawrence Faulkner.

“It’s the summer solstice and we’ll be sipping wine in the long shadows of a Kentucky evening, in Nonesuch of all places, in a schoolhouse filled with Gilded Age antiques that Henry would revel in,” says John Stephen Hockensmith, the book’s producer and publisher, for whom The Gift of Color was a labor of love that involved more than a decade of research.

For Hockensmith, creating both the 290-page tribute and a 381-page clam-shelled collector’s limited edition presented an opportunity to “take on Faulkner’s work without having to deal with Henry, a wonderful chance to examine his compositions, and study his color.”

Hockensmith met Faulkner in 1978. A 24-year-old printmaker and photographer, he had just opened a frame shop in Georgetown and would frame paintings for the artist. “Working on the book was much more profoundly influencing on my subconscious than it was 40 years ago when I was naïve,” says Hockensmith, owner of Fine Art Editions Gallery and Press.

The Gift of Color was a complex and long-term project due in part to what Hockensmith calls his own “chaos and lack of organization,” but also because truths kept revealing themselves about Henry and his paintings and legacy.

Learn more about the man, his masterpieces and his marketing brilliance during the book release and exhibit at Irish Acres later this month.

Mark your calendar for 4:30-8:30 p.m. Thurs., June 21, at Irish Acres Gallery, 4205 Ford’s Mill Road, Nonesuch, KY. This summer solstice party includes an exhibition of Henry Lawrence Faulkner limited edition giclée prints and new book release, The Gift of Color: Henry Lawrence Faulkner, in a setting of softly illuminated eclectic antiques, hosted by the owners of Irish Acres, sisters Jane DeLauter and Emilie McCauley.

With 50 showrooms spread over 32,000 square feet and three levels, and displaying antique European and American furniture, collectibles, crystal, silver, china, international gift-ware, bronzes, jewelry, ladies’ boutique items and more, Irish Acres is more than ordinary itself.

It is a place to enjoy a lingering evening of music, light hors d’oeuvres, wine and stories about the art and achievements of a man who dared to show his true colors throughout his life and presided over by John Stephen Hockensmith, the book’s producer and publisher.

For more information about the book release party, call Fine Art Editions at 502-863-2299. Fine Art Editions Gallery and Press is located in Georgetown near Lexington, KY.

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