A Wintry Bridge to the New Year: Framing Harry Orlyk

Today I finished framing two exceptionally beautiful East Coast landscape paintings that an old and dear friend had brought in. They’re by upstate New York painter Harry Orlyk (b. 1947).  The first one makes a very suitable New Year’s offering—a bridge in the cold but no less lovely winter light.


Harry Orlyk (b. 1947), (untitled), 2010. Oil on canvas, 15-3/4″ x 16-1/8″.

The frame, which Trevor Davis made, is a slight modification of our mortise-and-tenon frame No. 1100, the modification being that the sight edge chamfer is carved to harmonize in texture with the exuberant impasto brush work. I also like how the simple contrast between the flat face of the frame and the 45 degree chamfer echoes the flat valley floor and the banks of the creek. It’s in quartersawn white oak with Medieval Oak stain matching the shaded side of the principle tree. The simplicity of the profile and the frame construction suit the loose painting style as well as the central rustic structure of the bridge.

The fact that the bridge is very difficult to make out seems appropriate to this moment in time, this particular year as well as season; it may be hard to see, but it is there and available to us if we desire to move forward.

That desire, however, eludes many of us who are shaken and bruised by this troubling election. We as a people seemed bent on humiliating, discrediting, degrading, and destroying each other—and destroying in the process the classical republican ideals of public virtue on which our nation was founded. Incredibly, we elected a president whom only 3 in 10 Americans regard as moral. Voters were largely driven by what and whom they were against than what and whom they were for.


Harry Orlyk, (untitled), 2009. Oil on canvas, 17-1/4 x 17-3/4. (No. 16.2 “Gimson” in quartersawn white oak with Van Dyke stain, by Eric Johnson.)

But Mr Orlyk reminds us that good painters, even in the January cold, paint the light. My wish—my plea—is that we all at this time take stock of what we believe in; not what we hate and deplore, but what we love and cherish. Frames, as I’ve written before, say, “Consider this—this matters.” You cannot take your framing seriously and be a nihilist. Frames place focus and emphasis on, and give definition to, things that matter to us most. They house those things that deserve permanence of place in our lives and regular daily remembrance. Now, entering the new year, is the time to frame in our thoughts and our hearts, and frame our lives with, what is true and good—with things we can point to and say, Consider this. This matters. In this I place for safe keeping my love, hope and admiration. And with the desire and guidance of those good things and their lovely light, we then move forward.

A very Happy New Year to all. I’ll see you on the other side of the bridge.

More about Harry Orlyk…

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