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Helen Rogak, The Elks Building 1927

Helen Rogak, The Elks Building 1927 (2013), oil on canvas [Martin Batchelor Gallery, Victoria BC, Jan 9-Feb 4]

Helen Rogak

Martin Batchelor Gallery
Victoria BC – Jan 9-Feb 4, 2016

North Saanich-based painter Helen Rogak grew up in a Finnish farming community located 10 miles outside of Ironwood, Michigan. Her grandparents immigrated to the U.S. after a natural disaster in Finland wiped out their small farm, leaving them near starvation. They never learned to speak English, and it was in this quiet setting that Helen first learned to really “see” as an artist.

Although Helen has lived on the island since 1967, she still makes frequent trips back to her hometown, which is the inspiration for this latest series of large-scale oil paintings. Helen describes one occasion when she was walking down the streets of Ironwood back in 2012; it was six o’clock and, in the light of the setting sun, she realized how deserted the town had become since the days of her youth, in the ’40s. Empty buildings, empty streets; instead of people, she saw the proud beauty of the town’s aging architecture, built at a time when the community was bustling and rich.

Shown this past summer at Finlandia University, Michigan, in part to showcase Finnish/American contributions to the arts, Helen describes this series as “an experiment in painting the power of straight lines.” However, it’s impossible to resist the inherent romance of implied narrative, the poignancy of hope, success and faded grandeur that permeates this series.

martinbatchelorgallery.ca

Christine Clark

Helen Rogak, White Building 1889

Helen Rogak, White Building 1889 (2013), oil on canvas [Martin Batchelor Gallery, Victoria BC, Jan 9-Feb 4]

Helen Rogak, Memorial Building 1922

Helen Rogak, Memorial Building 1922 (2013) [Martin Batchelor Gallery, Victoria BC, Jan 9-Feb 4]

Helen Rogak, Downtown Ironwood 1928

Helen Rogak, Downtown Ironwood 1928 (2013), oil on canvas [Martin Batchelor Gallery, Victoria BC, Jan 9-Feb 4]


 Sun, Nov 8, 2015