Archive of the Mendocino Heritage Artists
Mendocino Heritage Artist Hilda Pertha (1911-2011)
Accomplished in sculpture, prints, water media, collage, commercial and industrial design, Hilda Pertha worked primarily in oil. She has described her work as “based on natural rhythms with a slant toward abstraction.” Late oils done en plein air explore forest and garden themes. Her spectacular abstract oils have been called “visual music,” and a French critic once wrote, “Hilda Pertha’s compositions are animated by wind, fog, and other rhythms which affect the soul while out in nature.”
European travels, and years of residence in New York, Paris, and other metropolitan centers have had their influence, but Hilda Pertha’s work also affirms her profound connection to the fjords of Norway, the mountains and coastline of Southern France, the forests and gardens of the Mendocino Coast, and Mendocino Bay in all its moods, a constant presence just below her Main Street, Mendocino studio.
Hilda Pertha’s painting career was launched in 1944 with her critically acclaimed, first solo exhibit, held at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The exhibit sold out, causing Pertha to question herself. Could work so attuned to popular taste be serious art? Did her paintings offer the public only a cheerful diversion from the war? The work was first rate, but Hilda Pertha’s rigorous integrity caused her to step away from the burgeoning acclaim for a time, to find the answers she sought. During this period, Pertha distinguished herself in commercial textile design, giving herself the freedom to focus on her painting, and reexamine her priorities as an artist, without pressure to exhibit.
Since then, Hilda Pertha devoted her life to her fine art, and has exhibited in museums and galleries in the United States, South America, and Europe.
WESTART magazine has published over 200 of her articles on art and painting. Hilda Pertha’s friend and biographer Connie Korbel-Mickey has transcribed and posted Pertha’s WESTART interviews and other articles, illustrated with artwork and personal photographs from the Pertha collection.
Stories about Hilda Pertha, her family, friends and lovers, travels, intellectual interests, and personal philosophy, her grace and humor, her rare gift for friendship, and her insight and generosity in mentoring generations of young artists, will not be told here. Hilda Pertha asked that her Zacha’s Bay Window webpages allow her work to speak for itself, without distraction.
For details of Hilda Pertha’s life in art, her articles and other writing, and much more about her artwork, all lavishly illustrated, turn to the rich online biography created by Pertha’s chosen biographer, Connie Korbel-Mickey.
Carol Goodwin Blick (2018)
Hilda Pertha’s resume is available at her blog.