“Four Horses” by Gene Matras
by Barbara Gibbs
The Art Place
I have admired Gene Matras's pen and ink artwork ever since I saw him demonstrating at Artist in the Park in Wolfeboro in the mid 80s. The piece he was working on at that time was of a farm perched on top of a hill. In black and white, he captured all the beauty of nature as if he were producing a painting instead of a pen and ink drawing, as if there were a brush in his hand instead of a pen. His skill showed through in each flowing stroke and the scene became alive. I thought, what an unbelievable patient person he must be to produce such intricate, detailed work. Fascinated, I then understood why a crowd of people always seems to surround him at his shows.
Gene Matras is an artist who has been blessed with a talent which he has enjoyed for years. The Matras family came to America from Europe in 1960. Born in a log cabin on a farm in Poland during the darkest days of the "Iron Curtain," Gene was nine years old when he arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his family. With initial encouragement from his mother, Gene has been drawing since early childhood in the Old Country, and has pursued his craft ever since.
Living in a rural environment in Poland he drew scenes which were familiar to him. Horses, cows, trees, and barns were always his favorite subjects. When he became a New Hampshire-man he continued with similar themes but with a New England flavor. He has tried other media, but chose pen and ink, which he has developed into an interesting technique. Drawing and not painting was always his passion even in the Old Country. He loves the stark contrast of black and white and its clarity. Inspired by natural scenes, wildlife, farms, and a variety of other rural subjects, he concludes that he does not have enough time to put it all on paper.
Living in Pittsfield with his wife, where they raised five children, he is surrounded by endless subjects. Gene has not always created art as his career. As a young man, he worked at various jobs until he could get on his feet with his art. Gene went to a vocational college in Manchester for a year to learn the welding trade, but when the instructor saw his artwork, he told him to get out of the school and do art seriously. Gene did just that, and as time went on, Gene became more well-known. His art is now collected by many people.
Matras' prints are produced from his original drawings by an offset lithography process. Gene sells his art at shows throughout New England and has acquired much recognition in the area. His prints are also collected abroad. Gene has a very busy schedule, showing his artwork at various shows, festivals, fairs and events, as well as art galleries.
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