Townsend purchased slides of Helen on eBay as part of his search for amateur slides and vernacular photography to use as a stimulus for his work. Helen’s jet black beehive, mod dresses, infectious smile, and verve were an inspiration. Since discovering Helen, Townsend has dedicated himself to painting her adventures. Barbeques, road trips with her husband Roy and meetings with friends have all become part of a pop art mythology featuring a woman who could be everyone’s favorite aunt. “Helen will keep him busy for years,” says her surviving niece Cheryl. “He just has to follow the trail.” Townsend feels painting Helen, following her journey, is teaching him to celebrate life.
Robert Townsend’s new solo exhibition, Wanderlust, is now at Altamira Fine Art, in Jackson, Wyoming. Los Angeles-based photorealist painter Robert Townsend is known for his boldly colored paintings of Americana. Wanderlust explores the life and times of his 1960’s muse, Helen, featuring new large-scale oils and watercolors.
To mark the closing of the show, on August 25th Altamira Fine Art will host the Wyoming premiere of the award-winning documentary film about Townsend and Helen, My Indiana Muse. Townsend, the film's directors, Ric and Jen Serena, and Helen’s niece Cheryl will be in attendance and will host a Q & A following the film. Tickets are available online.
Wanderlust is on view at Altamira Fine Art in Jackson, Wyoming, through August 26th.