‘Wall works’ are gigantic signs of hope

       Murals created by fresco painting have existed since 300 BC and even earlier using more primitive methods.  Once thought of as having a significant impact on communities with messages of historical or political incantations, this art form is now taking a different twist through artists like Daan Michael Hoekstra.  Fresco painting is a type of mural painting done on walls or ceilings and is derived from the Italian word affresco, meaning fresh. 

     Exploring historical and contemporary fresco painting practices, Hoekstra realized the impact that public displays had on people when expressed through universal human traits.  A fine example of his work can be found in Grand Rapids, Michigan on the side of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation building.  Here, Hoekstra’s painting reflects the realism of a woman looking to the past with sorrow, but turning toward the future with hope lining her face.  The scene causes people to relate to worldly aspirations or personal reassuring of better days ahead.

Muralismo ai Fresco

     Originally from Ohio’s ‘Northeast coast’ – Cleveland, artist Hoekstra began his art education studies at the University of Dallas in 1980.  Apprenticeships included working with Ray Vinella in Taos, New Mexico, then with Richard Lack at the Lack Atelier in Minnesota. His passion for fresco came to light when Daan worked with Mark Balma on a large-scale fresco project at St. Mary’s College in Minnesota.  This was the largest US buon-fresco project to be commissioned and completed in the past fifty years.

     Taking his knowledge of Italian fresco traditions to Mexico, to begin another two year project, Muralismo ai Fresco, funded by the Programa de Desarrollo Cultural Municipal de Alamos in 2007, Hoekstra has found a united symbolism of international traditional peoples and the environment through the mixture of historical exploration and contemporary fresco painting practices.  People stop and ponder the implications of an artistic public display and how it affects their lives.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation mural

     Today Daan lives with his family in Sonora, Mexico, where he is founder and director of the studio-school of fine art, Atelier Sonorense in Alamos.  Students are taught the basics of oil painting through an ‘Atelier’ program based on the tradition of 19th century ateliers and learn the distinction of artistry that raises their senses.

     Hoekstra’s past work is evident throughout the United States, Mexico and Japan in landscape, life and ecology paintings with recent emphasis on his love of murals through fresco.  His balance of humanity and nature are creating public awareness in a world filled with too little time and too little compassion. 

     Murals are making a comeback in a new and exciting way for everyone to focus on and enjoy like this featured creator. Stop by Daan’s website at www.hoekstrastudio.com to learn more about him as well as he will help design and display murals of distinction through his expanded fresco talents, whether by commercial commissions, residential or religious settings can be arranged by emailing Hoekstra at alamosartist@yahoo.com.

     During my across the miles’ time with Daan, beyond his artistic side, his huge visual works brought to mind a writing by Albert Schweitzer, “The Ethics of Reverence for Life.” In short, Dr. Schweitzer’s philosophy is that we as humans have the responsibility to not only create life, but also to give it meaning.

By Kate Garton/AAPJ Senior Feature Editor

Print download – Portrait of Daan Michael Hoekstra


Published by on December 2011. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Cover Section, In-Out Design Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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