m  a  r  k    e  r  i  c  k  s  o  n    p  a  i  n  t  i  n  g  s


f  a  m  i  l  y    a  r  t


I enjoyed viewing these photographs over the years whenever my mother or grandmother would bring them out and we would sit down and breeze through these beauties. Images of my grandmother and mother's paintings in the Village in New York City. Being born in California, to me that was the coolest. These photographs were "it" for me, inspiring me eventually to become a painter. Watching the two of them work in the studio clinched the decision.

There is significant family painting history in Greenwich Village, where my grandmother, Blanche (Nathan) Hesslein and my mother, Bernice (Erickson) Hesslein painted in Washington Square Park in the 1920's through 1950s.

All the work in this series of photos sold in time or at the time shown. My grandmother had a list of all the sales she made for herself and my mother, sometimes writing in pencil over the painting image of the photograph. The paintings were bought by collectors, passerby's and galleries on the east coast. I recall my grandmother telling me, at the time that the paintings sold for $50 - $500 each, depending on size and imagery.

"A great sum at the time," she would say.

All the photographs from this period are in black and white and all have an unique impact from that time. Some are from the Depression era and in some ways you can feel the darkness. By the late 1940s & 1950s New York City was beginning to be the center of the art world and city painters were searching for their voices and their own particular style.

Many of these photographs were shot in and around MacDougal Street and MacDougal Alley in Greenwich Village, a favorite atmosphere for them to work. They displayed their paintings in exhibitions around the park and streets of the Village. Both often worked together in a shared studio on MacDougal Alley in the 1930s through the 1950s.

Blanche and Bernice spent considerable time painting outdoors in the lush park with trees swaying and birds flying in the middle of that public square in New York City. MacDougal Alley is a dead-end off MacDougal Street, between Waverly Place and West 8th Street. The Alley was established in 1883 and from 1949 to 1950 Jackson Pollock lived at Number 9 in the alley. MacDougal Alley was the final Manhattan streets lit by gas lamps.


Blanche Hesslein
Buddha with Plate & Vase 1938
oil on canvas


Buddha with Plate & Vase


Click to view a High Resolution image

Mark Erickson 2017 All rights reserved.

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