San Francisco

Henrietta Berk

Art Unlimited

With some artists it is important, even vital, to talk of their influences. Mrs. Berk is just one of these artists. Her works reflect the now academic approach to figure and landscape painting found throughout the West Coast. This approach to painting has become a method in the hands of virtually every art department in every art school, university, and college in the state of California. As a manner of teaching art it is no better nor worse than any other. Working within the confines of “The Method,” a student must loosen up his painting technique and learn to make quick brush strokes and swift decisions while manipulating paint in order to emulate the look of the well-known Method painters. The finished product, i.e., the graduate student, is saddled with this approach to painting for as long as his instructor or instructors remain heroes to him. This hypothetical student’s paintings are as easily spotted as a new Rolls in a junk yard. They have vast, open spaces, fading into limitless horizons with or without a cunningly placed figure or two staring out, blank-faced, at the viewer. Or maybe it’s an interior with figures; but they are treated the same way as the landscapes. Mrs. Berk employs the West Coast Method in her paintings. She does it skillfully but brings nothing new to a style she didn’t formulate.

James Monte