The Prophet Crying in the Wilderness


There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Visitations early this morning from the spirit of Robert Henri have filled me to overflowing. Reading from his slected writings, I came across the remarks posted above. I know those sentiments fully. From childhood, art has been that portal allowing me “to see beyond the usual.” Visual art has been that gateway to worlds beyond the ordinary. And this morning, I am filled with that spirit of discovery once again.

Robert Henri, for The Eight, was John the Baptist for the first disciples, that prophet crying in the wilderness. In Philadelphia in the early 1890’s, his apartment at 806 Walnut Street was the largest small room in the world, where teenage illustrators gathered to hear this twenty-seven-year-old read to them from Emerson, Whitman, Chekhov and Tolstoy. Henri urged fresh vision as these painters turned away from established European styles of painting and toward everyday scenes they encountered in the streets. Though their homes were anchored in the urban, the prophetic cry of Henri came from the wilderness wasteland, and their inner souls sensed limitless space for imagination and new experiments in painting.

I devoted the first part of my morning to sitting at the sunlit window of my studio and reading Henri’s observations over several cups of coffee. I couldn’t have chosen a better activity. Now, paintings are waiting on the drafting tables, three of them actually. And I am in the mood to lean into them.

Thanks for reading. Shultz reduced


I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

                                 I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


Time to Return to the Waiting Paintings

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2 Responses to “The Prophet Crying in the Wilderness”

  1. Frank Hudson Says:

    Thank you for introducing me to Robert Henri with this post.


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