When she introduced the artist at the 1991 Worldcon, Marta Randall said fans in the Fifties and Sixties fans were able to recognize an sf book at a distance, not because there were aliens or brass-brassiered babes on the covers, but because of Richard Powers’ abstract paintings.
A newly-opened exhibit of Powers’ art is inspiring fresh appreciation for his talents. In Richard Powers: Seen and Unseen, Baldwin Hill Art & Framing and Gallery 55 are presenting 2D and 3D works owned by the Powers estate. The exhibit is open through October 7, at 55 South Main St. in Natick, MA
Some of his largest works are on display:
Throughout his life Powers was known for painting on whatever happened to be at hand. In his later years he took to painting on sections of hollow-core interior doors. These were cheap, readily available, and came in convenient widths from 28 to 36 inches. With proper edge trimming, these pieces had depth and presence while remaining relatively lightweight. Many of these works were done in his “surreal landscape” style with torn paper collage elements and stark, angular black and white lines.
There are smaller works featuring collage and montage elements, including some of his shadowboxes which combine paintings and sculptural elements.
Speaking to fans in 1991, Richard Powers, whitehaired, commanding, with a physique that made him the Michelangelo of paperback artists, declared, “The difference between writing and painting is that writing is work and painting isn’t.” And he told them, “The artist’s job is to do something of a visual nature that can’t very easily be put into words. My feeling is if the writer’s any damn good he doesn’t need me to do a literal illustration of something he’s already described perfectly well.”
Powers died in 1996.