Born 1965 in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, where he now lives with his wife Jennifer, and their young children, Dan's interest in art emerged as a teenager. Studies at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Illinois and his voracious appetite for museums and the modern masters such as John Singer Sargent, Alphonse Mucha, Nicolai Fechin, Joaquin Sorolla, Carl von Marr as well as a host of other French and American impressionists have inspired him. Dan has a particular interest and appreciation for modern Russian art and the sumptuous canvases of the painters Nicolai Fechin, Isaac Levitan and Ilya Repin. As Dan says, their paintings are "completely loose yet deliberate and faithful, not at all flashy." Indeed, the powerful and evocative beauty of Gerhartz's paintings are also due in large measure to looseness, honesty and faithfulness of his style. Dan's paintings embrace a range of subjects, most prominently the female figure in either a pastoral setting or an intimate interior. He is at his best with subjects from everyday life, genre subjects, sacred-idyllic landscapes or figures in quiet repose, meditation or contemplative isolation. His mastery of the female figure, the clothed figure especially, is brilliant. He has drawn inspiration from the very old tradition of romanticism and symbolism. His absolutely lavish surfaces, color and lighting are in harmony with his expressionistic brushstroke, application and modeling of light and shade. His paintings are sensitive yet evocative creations, which dramatize his bold and ambitious technique. He is at his very best when he allows himself to explore the surface in a free and painterly manner, while retaining his sense of other worldliness. His subjects evoke a timelessness and idealism, yet for the most part Dan has drawn upon his home and community in Wisconsin, including family and friends. His sense of intimacy and honesty with regard to his subjects are a direct result of his closeness and proximity to them. A projection of tranquillity, repose and rich introspection result from his knowledge of the content of his art. In Gerhartz's pictures the ordinary or commonplace is transformed into a higher reality and consequently a sense of greater importance. Emotions are a vital part of his express design, while his mastery of anatomy, the human form and complex surfaces combine to make his canvases very powerful visual experiences. About his work Dan has said, "My desire as an artist is that the images I paint would point to the Creator, and not to me, the conveyor. J.S. Bach said it well as he signed his work, 'Soli Deo Gloria,' To God alone be the glory."
- J. Brooks Joyner
For me, it all starts with WONDER...
contemplating how the beauty of our world can be a balm to the soul.
Several months ago, the inspiration for this new work began as I was blocking in a still life. I had toned the canvas to a dark gray and proceeded to place in the first blossom on this background.
I stepped away momentarily and found myself taken aback by a strong, unanticipated emotional response to the imagery. It felt to me like a bursting forth of hope through darkness. I went on to complete the painting as planned, but captured a photo of that moment of wonder and kept this vision working in my thoughts. Over a period of time, I contemplated how I could transform this striking visual concept in my mind into a work of art. I experimented with several compositions, trying to capture the sense of beauty and light breaking through what appeared to be an overwhelming darkness. Through this process, "The Promise of Dawn" emerged. The peony became the moon, piercing through to reach a figure heavily burdened, yet one still clinging to hope, knowing night will pass, and a new day will begin.
I have always been drawn to paint imagery that points toward Hope, no matter what season I am in or what circumstances the world offers. As I consider why this subject calls to me, I find it is not that I feel that I have it all figured out and that I am offering my work as a sermon to the viewer, but that I am reminding myself of the promises and hope God offers. It can be easy for me to lose sight of these eternal truths, but I am reminded when I see the creation with a fresh sense of wonder and allow His beauty to soothe my soul. I find His peace when I hear Him say, "Cast all of your anxiety on (Me) because (I) care for you." and "I will never leave you or forsake you."
I am struck by how apropos this theme is for me at this time. My hope is that through this work, you may remember God's ever-present love as well.
I wish all of you health and safety. God bless you.