From the community

Legendary artist to be celebrated in Monson

Posted Jan. 02, 2013, at 3:38 p.m.
Mountain landscape by Bill Holmbom
Mountain landscape by Bill Holmbom
Bill and Anne Holmbom chat with visitors at their home in Monson
Bill and Anne Holmbom chat with visitors at their home in Monson

MONSON— Mark your calendars! January 19 at 3 p.m. is the opening for the Bill Holmbom Art Show and Celebration Dinner at the Monson Community Center (formerly the Monson schools) in Monson, Maine. This significant showing will present a large display of Bill’s work.

James William (Bill) Holmbom was born in Monson, a child of parents who moved from the country of Sweden to Monson. The slate quarries in the area were known around the world, and Bill’s father was skilled in that work. At first, the elder Holmbom could speak no English, but as his children brought home their schoolbooks, he taught himself and soon could speak the new language fluently. He eventually became the manager of the quarry and was able to handily support his wife and eight children in the early 1900s. Bill graduated from the Monson schools and enlisted in the Army. He fought in WWII and used his GI bill for education.

“At first I started in forestry, but that wasn’t for me so I chose art instead,” he said.

This was a fortuitous decision indeed because, despite never having drawn or painted before, he had a natural talent that burst to life in art school. He discovered the joy of painting landscapes and he met his wife Anne at college. She is also a fine artist and for many years and in many places they worked in schools and taught art to young people.

For those not familiar with his work, Holmbom has the ability to capture the essence of location. A mountain landscape hearkens to the Hudson River Valley painters of the late 1800s with the warmth of air and patterns of light. Waves swirling around a misty rock are palpable in their cold ceaseless movement. Swaths of scarlet winter blueberry fields draw you in to misty, distant indigo hillsides.

“He does this all from memory, from his mind’s eye,” observed Anne. “Most artists paint from photographs or in the environment. He can see what he wants to paint without being in that physical place.” Her childhood was spent on Chebeague Island, off the southern coast of Maine. The Holmboms still summer there, where the air has a certain quality cherished by landscape artists for generations. They even had an art gallery next to Anne’s family home – Juniper Knee Gallery. Bill works in acrylics while Anne creates bold watercolors. The couple spent years in Mexico where Bill’s work took on a rollicking bright and splashy essence reflecting their sunny environment. They also lived in Hancock, Maine for some 30 years, during which time Bill produced the bulk of his paintings capturing the rugged Maine landscape and coast.

After the Reception, a Celebration Dinner is happening from 5 to 6 p.m. at Thymes and Seasons in the Monson Community Center. Seating is limited to 20 people, for $20.00 per person. Reservations will be accepted up until Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. Following the dinner, there will be an Evening Reception at the Holmbom’s on Center St. in Monson. For further information, contact Susan Fitz-William, Organizer of the Art Show at 997-3687. You may also email her at scdfw1@yahoo.com or contact Thymes and Seasons at 997- 3495 or online at thymesandseasons@aol.com. Come and be a part of this extraordinary event celebrating Monson’s own Bill Holmbom.

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