Bernie Sanders autographed a print of my drawing of him.

I drew this colored pencil portrait of Bernie Sanders during the 2016 primary season.  I never expected that, within one year, this would happen.

Bernie Sanders signs Noel Hefele Print. Ian Hefele gave it to him

That’s my brother Ian on the left. He gave Bernie a gicleé print of the drawing and Bernie pulled out his pen and offered to sign another copy that my brother was carrying.  Adam took the photograph.  Bernie signed right across the chin.

The best part about this: they were able to keep it secret for over 6 weeks until they saw me in person and were able to hand it to me directly.

I’m told he was impressed that I captured the likeness so well and was grateful to take a copy with him.

I just got it framed by a neighbor and Dorsey Gallery artist, Mr Bell Bey.  He did a fantastic job.

If you want a print of the drawing, you can find it on my etsy shop

A Sugar Maple. On display Sept. 17th – 25th during ArtSlope in Brooklyn

I’m so pleased to be exhibiting this painting for the first time, during the very first ArtSlope.nyc. For details on the location and opening times, click here.

It is my largest oil painting to date, the largest canvas I can drag down six flights of stairs and transport on the subway. The painting, to me, is about growth and death at the same time.

I’ve had Mag, my recently departed 92-year-old friend in mind while painting this sugar maple. I started it during the stretch when she was clearly dying, yet it seemed to never come. It was stressful—I needed to jolt myself out of it and assert my own agency precisely because I felt so helpless. A 6 foot square painting was the perfect challenge.

The challenge didn’t quite originate from me. Janet Fanning, a painter in my neighborhood, had passed away. Her family kindly asked if I was interested in some of her old stretcher bars. I said yes. Many of the bars were 4 to 6 feet in length, fashioned out of sturdy 30 year-old-wood. Janet had stopped painting on rectilinear frames over 30 years ago. I’m no expert, but it was clear to me that the quality was something from a bygone era. I’m grateful to Janet and her family for the challenge and opportunity to reawaken these canvas stretchers.

(You can’t get stretcher bars that feel like this anymore. The necessary increase in speed of wood production during the past 30 years has negatively impacted the quality of mass produced canvas stretcher bars. Hyper capitalism relentlessly seems to transform objects into cheap replicas of themselves.)

The subject matter of the painting is a sugar maple in Prospect Park. It is illuminated from behind, colored red during the height of autumn.

Mag gave me a book called “Freddy the Leaf” after my mother died. It is about a leaf, transitions through life, and death. I thought about that while painting this tree.

I also thought about the connection between the growth of a human and the growth of a tree…as well the way I orient myself to both. I can only attempt to grasp what that a 92 year old  perspective feels like—it is about as inaccessible to me as the perspective of a tree.  I’m left wondering what lessons there are in my relationship with Mag that can inform how I relate to a tree.  A human and a tree cannot change their roots. They are formed by the conditions they are born into.

Mag was a Catholic Nun. I cannot help but also think of the burning bush from the bible.

I’d be lying if I said I had any of this in mind at the outset. But that is key I think. I thought of this while painting. It is generated through the process itself. The painting continues to generate its meaning now that it is out in the world.

I hope you get the chance to see it. Let me know what you think.

This painting is a tree at human scale. You are forced to confront it directly: growing, dying, and beautiful.

sugar-maple-tree

Bernie Sanders Artwork

Bernie Sanders Artwork by Noel Hefele
Some examples of the fine art Gicleé prints I made.

I drew Bernie Sanders this primary season in colored pencil. I thought he was the best choice for president. I’m selling fine art gicleé prints of the drawing for $20 (shipping included). The prints are signed and numbered.

The prints are on arches fine-art watercolor paper – 240gm, archival quality. The ink is Epson Ultrachrome, also archival quality.

Purchase Bernie Sanders Artwork here!

Let’s continue the political revolution!

422 Trees: Landscapes by Hefele, Marvin, and Mori

September 24th
6-9pm
Tugboat
546 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11225

I’m showing several paintings with two landscape photographers, Yoshiko Mori and Robert Marvin this month. We deal with very similar subjects through very different approaches. The show came together nicely! Please join us for the opening if you are free.

The show statement is below:

A recent Yale-led study put the approximate number of trees on earth at 3.04 trillion, over 7 times the previous global estimate of 400 billion. Instead of 61 trees for every human on planet earth, the new estimate is 422 trees. While good news, this study also claims a 46% decline in tree population since human civilization began.

Roughly 7-8 trees provide the oxygen one person requires for a year of breathing. US urban forests sequester over 700 million tons of carbon. Worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day (roughly 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper). Prospect Park lost over 500 trees during Hurricane Sandy. Worldwide, our net loss is about 10 billion trees a year.

How do you value a tree? You only have 422 trees, knowing that, does it change how you look at an individual tree? 422 sounds like a lot, but is it?

We are exhibiting three contrasting interpretations to landscape and the trees that live in them. Art can provide empathic aesthetic and emotional connections to these living beings, highlighting small moments of awareness and appreciation. Our trees can fade into the background of everyday life, but they are ever-present and necessary collaborators on a finite planet.

Join us for the opening reception @ Tugboat this Thursday at 6pm!

#prospectleffertsgardens

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