Every painting that he does, Gregory Huebner tries to find some balance in the work.
Cool colors are offset by warm reds, yellows and oranges. Sharp angles and forms match up with rounded shapes. Geometric objects share the same space as organic, natural items.
Huebner saw this quest for harmony in the lives of the Native Americans. Now the retired Wabash College art instructor tries to capture it in his art.
The results are a retrospective currently on display at the University of Indianapolis in “The Last Thirty Years: The Art of Gregory Huebner.” The exhibition will be on display through Feb. 7 at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Gallery, 1400 E. Hann Ave., Indianapolis.
Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free.
What was it about Native American study that you were drawn to?
It’s the type of study that once you get into it is so fascinating. It’s so prevalent in our lives and how we go about what we do.
Once you got into this study, what did you learn about these mysteries of nature?
In Western culture, we look at nature as something to be dominated and controlled and built on. There’s not a word for ‘wilderness’ in Native American culture.
They don’t look at nature as a wild thing; they think of it as a wonderful provider. They also believe everything in nature has a soul, a spirit, even rocks. If you think about that as you walk through a state park, you tread lightly.
How then did you take those concepts and apply them to your own art?
My sense of all of this revelation is that life comes in opposites. That idea of opposite forces that need to find harmony and balance is what I try to do in my paintings.
If you look at my paintings, there’s a struggle to harmonize in it.
What is an example of that in your work?
The last one in there, “The Spirit World,” if you look at that closely, you see a lot of oppositions that are harmonizing.
If you look at the piece, it seems to be well-balanced, but if you look closer, there are some big and broad areas set against small areas. Warm vs. cool, jagged vs. flowing. All of these things are put in so the eyes go gracefully from one point to another.
How does that reflect in everyday life?
We are all going through life with these contrasts and these variable forces. We all try to resolve those every day — with the family, with work, with free time and whatever else we want to do. It seems to be a natural way of going about my paintings.
How has it affected you as a person?
It’s affected me quite a bit. When I go in-depth on the canvas, it’s almost a deep look inside me, to find balance on the outside.
What do you hope people take away as they walk through it?
On the surface, I hope they get enjoyment from the work.
Then, after they read the statements and walk through it a second time, they might have a better sense that art itself comes from deep within.
Art isn’t put together when you have a few free moments. It’s a very serious study.