John Heine brings art to Montevallo

Published 3:53 pm Monday, April 19, 2010

To say the paintings now in the Parnell Library Art Gallery are exciting and imaginative is a major understatement.

“Whether my images are recognizable or completely abstract is of little importance to me,” said John Heine, artist. “The idea for each new painting is like jumping off a cliff into the unknown. I know where it will start, but I have no idea where it will end up. Whenever I start a new canvas, I go to war. I take no prisoners. I try to paint fearlessly, pushing visual boundaries and at the same time always paying homage to the profound mystery of life.”

Heine’s love of art began as a child when he visited art galleries with his grandmother. He always loved to draw but until high school he never considered that art would be his real profession.

That ambition took on life as he came to the University of Montevallo, where he took classes from painting professor John Spicer and sculptor John Rietta.

While Heine was at UM, he began creating cartoons professionally and as a very young cartoonist created a nationally syndicated cartoon strip called “MAYA.”

His drawings appeared in many national magazines, publications and cartoon books, such as “A Good Planet is Hard to Find” and “The Land of No Hassles.”

After 30 years of cartooning, this artist wanted to do something more serious, so he moved into oil painting.

His early paintings featured the human body and were concerned with color.

The next step was to abstract paintings where, as he explained, the canvases have an organic, puzzle-like feel with a deep impasto surface that is carved and scratched into, disclosing an undercoat of paint.

Later paintings became more clearly defined; the colors became more vivid.

Each painting makes its own strong statement.

When asked about his experiences at UM, Heine said, “I’m really excited to have a one-man show of my paintings in Montevallo. You could say it was where my artistic dreams really started. I have so many rich and wonderful memories of the three years I lived there.”

The current exhibit is called Parallel Worlds and typifies the description Heine gives of his work.

His works are for sale at the Matt Jones Gallery in Birmingham.

The public is invited to a gallery talk by the artist at the Parnell Gallery on Sunday, April 25 at 2 p.m.

Catherine Legg can be reached at