Book, exhibition to celebrate renowned local artist

Photo of Stuart Henderson by Robert Serra

Dec. 27, 2022 — A newly-published book and exhibition will celebrate the artistic legacy of a renowned long-time local graphic and abstract artist. “Stu Art: A Retrospective” is a 200-page large format hardcover book that salutes the 50-year career of Stuart Henderson.

An art exhibit will be held at Austentatious, a gift shop and arts gallery at 494 Highway 101 in Florence, beginning with a reception on Friday, Jan. 6, from 5 to 9 p.m. The gallery will feature a selection of original Stuart Henderson paintings. A separate room will be set up as a “retrospective” with original hand-painted signs from previous businesses and a small selection of original wallpaper as well as some personal effects like brushes and sketches. The exhibit will run through March 6.

The book is a collection of stories and photographs of Henderson’s career that is designed to paint a portrait of the artist. Featured elements include: selections of Bay Street Productions wallpaper designs with an introduction by Michael Jarman, who worked with Stuart; the myriad collection of signs of multiple styles of art and calligraphy with an introduction by Nick Henderson, Stuart’s son and graphic artist; and Stuart’s abstract paintings, drawings and sketches that he created over his long career, with an introduction by his wife and fellow artist, Joann Henderson.

“Stuart’s graphic imprint has been a major influence in the success, as well as the pace and mood, of Old Town Florence,” long-time friend and business partner Ron Hogeland writes in the book.

Stuart’s success “is singular. A number of examples remain, such as the Bridgewater Restaurant sign at the corner of Bay and Laurel. Across the street, the Kitchen Klutter’s. And the bold, inviting wall mural of Bill Karnowsky’s Evinrude Outboard Motors at the west end of Bay Street. Like much of the writing and cartoons in The New Yorker magazine, Stuart’s graphic signs, as well as his paintings, reflect someone who takes his art seriously, but not himself,” Hogeland writes.

Jarman writes about Stuart’s early days in Florence when he was a founding partner in Bay Street Productions, an artisan wallpaper factory in the Kyle Building on Bay Street.

“What I find so impressive about Stu is the remarkable sensitivity and nuance he displays in his work. He is one of the finest artists and craftsmen I know, and he has no sense of self-aggrandizement. You don’t have to know Stu to love his work. Anywhere you go in Florence, his signs illuminate the town,” Jarman writes.

Nick Henderson details working with Stuart in the sign “shop:” He talks about “Stuart’s unerring instinct to keep it all about the marriage of brush and board and a beautiful color or 10. Things needed to move at the speed they needed to move, whether it was the process of determining the right size of board, or rearranging the shop to accommodate something larger.”

The sign shop “was about 95 percent art studio and less than 5 percent commercial venture in some respects,” according to Nick.

Joann Henderson writes about her husband’s long journey as an artist, having met him at art school.

“Today, at 83, a deep empathy and compassion for others continues to be the foundation of his character,” Joann writes. “In retirement, his favorite word is ‘connections’ — connections which feed his spirit, connections with people, with their shared experience, and the creativity that emerges at the moment he is holding a brush in his hand.”

The book “Stu Art: A Retrospective” is a publication of Maple Creek Press, Siltcoos, Ore. The book is available at Austentatious, Books ’N’ Bears and Rose and Crown Apothecary on Bay Street or through Robert Serra, Maple Creek Press, ([email protected]) and Ron Hogeland and Nancy Archer.

For more information, contact Robert Serra at [email protected].