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Brenau shows off pieces by artist John Heliker
John Heliker painted “Interior with Three Figures” in 1987 using oil on linen. It is part of the Permanent Collection of the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation.

Art lovers who cannot travel to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., to see the famous pieces on display will be treated for the next several weeks with a renowned artist’s works.

From today until Nov. 19, Brenau University’s Simmons Visual Arts Center will exhibit John Heliker’s “The Order of Things,” at 200 Boulevard, Gainesville. A free opening reception will be from 5:30-7 p.m. today with a keynote address at 6 p.m. from Patricia Bailey, executive director of the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation.

Heliker was a prolific American artist based in New York, N.Y., from the 1930s until his death in 2000. He painted landscapes, still-life and portraits in a variety of ways, in what can almost be considered semi-abstract.

His pieces normally reside at the Smithsonian, but they are hanging in the Brenau gallery for almost two months this fall. Part of the exhibit includes his rare early works from the 1930s.

“It represents such a breadth of the artist’s career,” Brenau gallery director Nichole Rawlings said.

Not only are Heliker’s pieces from his younger years on display, but so are paintings from the late ’90s near the end of his life.

Gallery manager Allison Lauricella said the exhibit shows “how his style changed and his process worked” throughout his lifetime of painting.

One of the most intriguing parts of the collection is the inclusion of two sketchbooks. Rawlings said not only are they a “fascinating insight into the mind of a brilliant artist,” but they reveal the artist’s process from sketch to final painting.

“It is a valuable part of our education,” she said.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Guided adult tours are offered at 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tours must be reserved at least two weeks in advance. For more information, contact Lauricella via email at or call 770-534-6263.

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