A Rare Opportunity to See an Anna Maria Artist’s Significant Body of Work
(Update: Helen passed away January 27, 2015 at her Anna Maria home.)
Anna Maria Island prides itself on its art community, which holds frequent exhibits and fairs at various venues. But not all of the island’s artists focus on showing their work. Some are more involved in their inner journey, and their painting process, without allowing the requirements of showing and selling their work to influence these priorities. The result can be work that has a great deal of integrity, and personal meaning.
Such is the case with Anna Maria artist Helen Romeike-Wisniewski, who, at 87, is still involved in her paintings every day. Her body of work is substantial, spanning the past six decades. Much of it never has been shown.
The opening of a large exhibit of her paintings, at the Palmetto Art Center (PAC) on Saturday, March 3, [ed. 2012] from 5 to 8 pm, promises to be an unusually interesting event. This relatively new art gallery and community center is a beautiful location for the serious presentation of art. The entire facility is being dedicated to the best possible presentation of Romeike-Wisniewski’s bold abstract paintings. The pieces to be shown have been selected by PAC director Gretchen LeClezio and the artist, to represent her work from various eras, including her time in Germany, in Austin, Texas, and on Anna Maria Island. Very large works on unstretched canvas will be hung, as well as more recent geometrical abstract acrylic paintings on paper, most of them unframed. The pieces are so strong that the frame is not missed. There will be some framed pieces, including an intriguing ink portrait of the artist’s brother, whom she credits with suggesting she enter the field of art.
“Hocus-Pocus” is how Helen Romeike-Wisniewski describes her work. “Now you see it, now you don’t,” she explains in her artist statement (shown in full, below). “We get glimpses of what’s out there or glimpses of what’s within…” The richness of both her inner and outer life are evident in this stunning exhibition spanning six decades of her journey to self knowledge through painting.
Helen Romeike-Wisniewski’s roots on Anna Maria Island run deep. Her parents, German immigrants, built the 1950s island home where she currently resides and still spends time creating. Her life, much like her canvas, is rich in experiences. Helen grew up in a family that followed her father’s petroleum engineering work assignments. During her married life, Helen continued to move often, this time following her then-husband’s military assignments. In the years after, Romeike-Wisniewski’s independent streak became as vibrant as the colors reflected in many of her paintings.
Helen Romeike-Wisniewski received her Masters of Fine Arts from the University of South Florida in 1978. She has exhibited across the country. And her work serves as inspiration to both academic and local art circles familiar with its distinctive understandings, sensitivity and interpretations. The paintings selected for this exhibit span a period from the 1950s through the present.
Among those inspired by Romeike-Wisniewski is Virginia Bradley, professor of art from the University of Delaware. “Art and Society are in crisis,” she says. “We are no longer bound, or led, by the ethics of a moral society or established religion. We are left with personal choices so that we need guides to show, by their dedication and personal sacrifice, how to reach the deeper parts of ourselves. This is the path chosen by Helen Romeike Wisniewski, who shows us a way through by her example and allows us to reach levels of understanding through her paintings and approach to living. She has been the guide for my artistic practice and life for the past thirty- three years. I am extremely fortunate to have Helen as a mentor, friend and colleague.”
The exhibition at Palmetto Art Center, located at 907 5th Street West in historic downtown Palmetto, will continue through the month of
March April, and can be viewed during regular PAC gallery hours: Monday through Friday from Noon-2PM (Closed Wednesdays), or by appointment. For more information or directions, call (941) 518-2109. Admission is free at this most welcoming, family friendly establishment.
Helen Romeike-Wisniewski’s Artist Statement
It’s all hokum.
It’s all hocus-pocus.
Now you see it,
now you don’t.
We get glimpses
of what’s out there
of what’s within.
as in visual intelligence,
is an impermanent thing.
and it goes.
Now you see it,
now you don’t.
while its essence
It’s a mysterious thing
with its pit stops
– H R-W