Skip to content

Derek Guthrie: New Work

Derek GuthrieHANCOCK, MI – Derek Guthrie, British artist, art critic, and co-founder of the influential art magazine New Art Examiner, will premiere his artwork in the United States at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from July 23 to September 11, 2009.
A closing reception for the artist will take place at the gallery Thursday, September 10, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. An artist talk will begin at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Michigan Technological University will also sponsor a lecture by the artist Monday, September 14, 2009, 7:00 p.m., at the Forestry Building Auditorium, located at MacInnes and Seventh Street, Houghton.
The Finlandia University Gallery exhibit is the first of Guthrie’s artwork in decades.  The exhibit comprises work created since 1995.
In October 1973, Guthrie and his wife, Jane Addams Allen, founded the New Art Examiner in Chicago. Known for decades in Chicago for his work in art criticism, Guthrie is credited with having helped introduce a new set of writers that would become prominent in their field.
Concentrating on artists, exhibitions, and critical issues in Chicago and the Midwest, the New Art Examiner, published from 1973 to 2002, provided an alternative to magazines such as Art News, Art in America, and Artforum.
“Derek Guthrie’s career is a testament to the difference one individual can make – to the field of art criticism, and more recently to art production,” says Carrie Flaspohler, director of the Finlandia University Gallery.  “For the generations of artists who grew up reading the New Art Examiner, Guthrie provided a unique vantage point outside the artistic mainstream.”
After retiring from his career at the Examiner in 2001, Guthrie and his wife moved to Cornwall, England, where he began to paint again after a hiatus of many years. In his painting he sought strength from the landscape, the very same landscape that dominated his art many years earlier.
“I returned to Cornwall with my late wife Jane Addams Allen,” Guthrie writes in an essay for a catalog of his work. “This also marked a retreat from our public life as art critics; we were worn out.”
In 2004, Guthrie’s wife died after a long struggle with illness.
“This work addresses that coming to terms with a new life in Cornwall, Jane’s death, and my subsequent survival,” Guthrie writes. “I drew strength from the landscape and the mighty force of the sea. I had initially discovered Cornwall in 1957, and it was then that Cornwall became anchored into my soul and set into my life. The natural world has always offered its presence as backdrop and resource, and to this day, I continue to draw upon its infinite well.”
In returning to painting, Guthrie renewed his interest in Eastern art and the oriental brush, among other tools that he studied in his youth.
“Derek Guthrie’s paintings exert a power as they draw in the viewer like a magnet while exerting such delicate pressure,” notes artist Mokha Laget.  “It is as if the artist absented himself from the work in order as to not disturb the approaching eyes.”
Laget further describes Guthrie’s work as quite Asian in spirit, creating the illusion of the artist who tiptoes quietly off.
“It is at the fulcrum of courage and restraint, sobriety and awe, that Derek Guthrie’s exceedingly personal process of receptivity to the natural world allows the viewer to glimpse the inaccessible through a most gently glowing lens,” Laget says.
Flaspohler predicts that Guthrie’s presence on campus and his lectures will challenge Finlandia art students and our community to question the current trends of the art world.  On a more personal level, she believes that Guthrie’s poetic and reflective artwork will “compel each of us to find our own source of inspiration and to honor what is unique within each of us.”
The exhibit of work by Derek Guthrie is sponsored by the Finlandia University Gallery, the Finlandia University Campus Enrichment Committee, and Michigan Technological University. It is on display until September 11.
The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.