Hanging out in Havana, 2018
Materials: Oil and mixed media on canvas 40 x 36”.
Location at Summa Health: Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Tower on the Akron Campus (141 N. Forge St.), blue neighborhood, fourth floor, hallway outside patient rooms H4-134 and H4-135.
Like much of her recent work, this oil painting by Lee Heinen sets out to explore the expressive potential of body language and facial expression as she paints interesting people she encounters in her world travels. The artist represents figures engaged in dialogues, the content of which she imagines. She simplifies and flattens form — they are handled as broad gently rounded areas of unmodulated color, with minimal references to setting — as a reference to pop style (as found in early 20th century posters and the work of Alex Katz and Milton Avery, two of Heinen’s favorites), as well as a way of emphasizing the underlying drawing.
Details of faces may or may not be articulated, but Heinen is drawn to details in accessories like the shoulder bags and jewelry — bracelets, earrings, and the wonderfully asymmetrical curve of the long necklace worn by the woman on the left — and the collaged fabric of the pair of pants. Her titles allude to the larger context of some paintings: Here, we realize we are in Cuba as we witness this dialogue. That specificity of location makes the stars and stripes in the headscarf worn by the right figure an ironic note and situates the conversation on a balcony in one of Havana’s fading grand houses.
Heinen studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art and completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at Ursuline College; she also has studied at the Instituto de Allende in Mexico and at the Wolf Kahn workshop in Maine. She has worked in several styles, primarily the pop-art figural style evident in the Summa Collection painting and more recently a highly abstracted, gestural style, which grew out of need to recycle older canvases. Heinen has received an Individual Artist’s Award for Excellence from the Ohio Arts Council.
Where you can see more of this artist’s work:
In addition to seeing more of Lee Heinen’s paintings and prints on her website, she has work archived with the Artists’ Archives of the Western Reserve, of which she is a member of the board. Her work is represented by galleries in Akron and Cleveland, and she has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout Northeast Ohio, as well as in California and Connecticut. Corporate collections such as University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland; the Bank of America (Wilmington, Delaware); the Cuyahoga County Administration Building; the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn; and the Glidden House in Cleveland also hold works by Heinen. In 2018, she published American Family Album, a collection of paintings she made from photos in an old family album.