Johnson State College presents “Peter and Alexandra Heller: Paintings and Sculptures” through Wednesday, Sept. 24, in the Dibden Center for the Arts’ Julian Scott Memorial Gallery. A reception and question-and-answer period will be held Thursday, Sept. 4, at 3 p.m. in the gallery. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.
Peter Heller, an oil painter, died in 2002. His wife Alexandra continues to create steel sculptures and display their work in her Brickhouse Bookshop in Morristown Corners.
The Hellers’ artwork is informed by nature, creating an experience for the viewer in which abstraction, perception and archetypal forms synthesize.
The couple met and married as fellow students in the mid-1950s at Columbia University’s School of Painting and Sculpture. Alexandra Heller taught sculpture at Johnson State for five years in the 1970s; her husband taught art at JSC until his retirement in 1989. He then continued to work in his studio at Morristown Corners until his death. Alexandra Noble Heller was born in New Haven, Conn., in 1932. She attended high schools in Massachusetts and New York and studied sculpture at the Boston Museum School before landing at Columbia.
Peter Heller was born in 1929 in Berlin, Germany, the son of musicians Hans Heller, a Jewish composer, and Ingrid Eichwede, a concert pianist. As Hitler rose to power, the family fled to Paris and then southern France, where Peter attended school and created his first paintings. His father was incarcerated in a French prison camp for foreigners, and Peter and his mother hid in a goat hut until the end of the war. The family moved to New York City, living with an uncle, Richard Goetz, who was an art collector and cousin of Albert Einstein. Einstein’s letter of recommendation was instrumental in helping the Hellers gain entry to the United States.
After Peter and Alexandra graduated from Columbia, they lived and worked in Maryland; Berlin, Germany; Florence, Italy; New York City; Burlington and Bard College in New York before joining Johnson State.
The exhibit is open to the public weekdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Additional paintings are on exhibit in the Dibden Wings Gallery and can be seen from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays.
For more information, contact Leila Bandar at 802-635-1469 or Leila.firstname.lastname@example.org.