61 Works — John Holmfeld Art Collection Exhibit and Sale
Benefit of the Silversmith’s House Building Fund
Reflections on the John Holmfeld Collection by Cathy Herndon, August 3, 2012
I was asked to speak about John Holmfeld’s collection a few weeks ago. My first thoughts were about my knowledge of John and his personality from the first time I met him.
He came into Art First on Hanover Street one day when I was working. I said hello and explained about the Gallery and the current exhibit. He looked for a very long time at the all member’s work studying each piece. I remember he asked what artwork was mine and I went into (as you know) a rather long and detailed description of my materials used, my thought process, and the reasons why I create as well as I was an art teacher and pretty much my life history! Then he commented on Elsie Hagenlocher’s work as well as Joan Limbrick, Mary Jane Bohlen, Nita Holle and Paula Rose pieces. I gave him details of what I knew on those artists and their work as well. We had a wonderful discussion about each piece. Later I asked him where he was from and he said Northern Virginia, that he was a lobbyist for a Science foundation in DC and he wrote their newsletters and supplements. Needless to say he was there for more than one hour, maybe two, and he left saying he would return again. He wanted to get in touch with me for further questions since he had no phone, no computer, no email, and no car! (He had taken the train down.)
I knew then he was a quirky, learned man and I immediately developed a respect and awe for someone who was exciting to talk to about art and was genuinely interested in the group of artists and in me. From that time forward John settled in Fredericksburg just across the river near Chatham in a darling, little cottage he purchased from Joan and Ted Limbrick. He got a car later, then a keyboard, than a cell phone, but never email.
John became involved with the FCCA when I was on the Board doing the newsletter. When I became President, he came on the BOD and took over the newsletter. It was wonderful because he added that writers touch. He created and was benefactor for the annual docent’s luncheon (until his death) and became involved in many arts foundations, organizations, Libertytown, The University Arts Board and other art groups in a major philanthropic way, thus making him a welcomed, vital part of the Fredericksburg Arts Community.
John also began assembling a collection of many Fredericksburg and area artists work. This not only supported the artists but gave me, and I hope many of them, the courage to continue to be creative with their dreams.
I think of John knowing he was a writer and collector of thousands of books, as the pleasure I get from reading one of my favorite books, People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. In this book, Brooks writes of an ancient manuscript with illustrations and “found” objects in the binding, telling the story of the book from its present state to back through the centuries of its beginning existence. His art collection is much like small stories of John’s life, but we have not read them all, just a few. We as humans, buy art that connects with us either from our own life experiences or the artist’s experiences and knowing that. We want to live through artist’s emotions as well as our own by way of their artistic creation. Much of this shows in the artwork, a little bit of John, just like connections we make while reading a book.
Take Ed King’s luscious landscapes and Carol Phifer’s. They are what we would like to see or where we would like to be.
Paula Rose and Heidi Lewis put you in their interiors as if they were your own.
Joan Limbrick, Paula Rose, Bruce Day, Bob Worthy, John Darling and Judith Merrill; ethereal, and realistic nude figures are “want to be” sirens from our dreams.
When you look at the collection as a whole you see that John got it of how art is what we have lived or would like to. I hope you can make a connection yourself with many of these pieces and want to live with or through them.