Mason Hall Alumni Atrium Gallery to Feature Work of Fairfax Artist Herb Beard

Posted: August 29, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Herb Beard paints pictures that offer glimpses into American life in the mid-20th century.

For this reason, some people have likened his work to that of Edward Hopper. But while Hopper’s paintings depicted contemporary life, Beard’s paintings are inspired by his memories of growing up during the 1940s and 1950s in Erie, Pa.

Beard’s solo exhibition, “Painting through My Rear-View Mirror,” will feature more than 30 acrylic and oil paintings. The paintings will be on display from Tuesday, Sept. 2, through Tuesday, Oct. 7, in the Mason Hall Alumni Atrium Gallery on the Fairfax Campus.

A public reception will be held in the gallery on Thursday, Sept. 4, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Rain break at Herman's painting
“Rain break at Herman’s”
© 2008 Herb Beard

In creating his paintings, Beard reflects on times, places and events in his life, and recreates them as he remembers them. He says that he tries not to glamorize or be sentimental in his work, but portrays events that are important to him from the various chapters of his life.

His paintings are full of images reminiscent of a simpler time: children making snow angels in a field, an old theater advertising a John Wayne film on the marquee, old Ford trucks and Christmastime in downtown Erie.

“I like the things that I remember from my youth, like corner stores, farms, country bands and family holidays,” Beard says. “These things are fun to paint and preserve.”

Beard first studied painting while still in high school under Erie-area painter Joseph Plavcan. Plavcan’s mentoring helped Beard win a full scholarship to study art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He majored in advertising design, but continued to study fine arts throughout college. After graduation, Beard began his career as a graphic and exhibit designer for Procter and Gamble, then worked for Lockheed Martin.

In 1967, he formed his own design and consulting firm, which he ran for nearly 10 years. In 1976, Beard joined the Department of Energy as chief of exhibit design. He later became director of advertising and promotion for the Bureau of National Affairs, where he was employed until retiring in 2000.

Since retirement, Beard has resumed the study of painting at Mason, working with Art and Visual Technology instructors Walter Kravitz, Paula Crawford and Chawky Frenn.

He now exhibits his paintings with professional groups in Northern Virginia and Pennsylvania. In 2007, he had a solo show at the Bayfront Gallery in Erie. Beard also displayed his work in June in the Mason Center for the Arts during the inaugural Mason Festival of the Arts.

The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public. The gallery, located on the ground floor of Mason Hall, is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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