Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Robert L. LaHotan received both his B.A. and M.F.A degrees from Columbia University. He was a Fullbright Scholar at the University of Frieburg, Germany from 1953-1955. Through their friendship with Charles Wadsworth, LaHotan and his companion John Heliker were attracted by the beauty of Great Cranberry Island and in the late 1950’s purchased the old Stanley home and boatyard. LaHotan’s studio was a refurbished boathouse on the shore’s edge of The Pool.
As an artist, LaHotan was deeply influenced by Matisse, Bonnard, Vuillard and his companion Heliker. His delicate still life’s and interior scenes are evocative of an earlier and perhaps more tranquil time while his landscapes of the Island, and especially the area surrounding his house, are in bold, forceful colors with broad impressionistic strokes.
After the death of Heliker in 2000 and until his own death in 2002, LaHotan devoted his time and energy to establishing The Heliker-LaHotan Foundation, Inc., a joint project conceived with Mr. Heliker in 1993. The Foundation is dedicated to the artistic vision of the two painters who were its founders, and in New York City and Maine is engaged in a variety of projects that perpetuate their legacy, including a residency program on Great Cranberry Island for painters and sculptors of established ability. The Foundation, which maintains the former home and studios of the two artists, will sponsor its first resident in August, 2005.
LaHotan’s works are in many major museums and private collections, especially in New York City. He was the recipient of many awards, the latest being the Benjamin Altman Landscape Prize from the National Academy of Design. He has been represented by Kraushaar Gallery in New York for over three decades. The Gallery is mounting a commemorative show of his works in December, 2005.
Born in Yonkers, New York in 1909, Heliker studied painting at the Art Students League from 1927-29. He taught at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and was a Professor of Art at Columbia University for twenty-seven years. He has also taught at the Art Students League, the New York Studio School (he was a founding faculty member), and in the MFA Painting Program at Parsons School of Design. His work was exhibited nationally in the major survey exhibitions of the Carnegie Institute, the Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Museum, the Corcoran Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art’s ABSTRACT PAINTING IN AMERICA, and many others. The Whitney Museum of American Art honored Jack with a mid-career retrospective in 1968, and he has been included in numerous Whitney Museum annuals and biennials. He was represented at the Bicentennial Exhibition AMERICA: 1976 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC that traveled through the country, and his work toured Europe through USIA in the 1950’s and was featured at the World’s Fair in Brussels in 1958 and in Osaka in 1969.
Among the artist’s many awards are the Prix de Rome (1948), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1951), three Ford Foundation Purchase awards, and numerous awards from the National Academy of Design including the Benjamin Altman prizes for Landscape, Figure and Still Life.
Heliker was elected a member of the National Institute for Arts and Letters in 1969 and was an Academician of the National Academy of Design. From the American Academy of Arts and Letters he won a Gold Medal for Merit and a Purchase award and grant in 1967. The artist was awarded Honorary Doctorates of Fine Arts from Colby College, Maine and from Bard College, New York. His works are included in numerous public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Walker Art Center, the Philadelphia Museum and the Whitney Museum, among many others. In Maine alone, his works are in The Farnsworth Art Museum, The Portland Museum, The Ogunquit Museum and in the museums at Bowdoin and Colby Colleges.