John Wesley Hardrick was born and raised in Indianapolis and continued to paint there all his life. He studied at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis under Hoosier Group artist William Forsyth. Hardrick worked as an artist while holding down various jobs that included working in the family hauling business and driving a cab. He kept his paintings in the trunk of his cab, using every opportunity he could find to sell them to his customers. He worked for the Public Works of Art Project during the Great Depression, painting murals for the Crispus Attucks High School auditorium in Indianapolis. Hardrick’s subjects include portraits, autumn and winter landscapes, and floral still lifes.
Winter landscapes were Hardrick’s specialty. Here a frozen creek winds through the center of the landscape, its icy surface broken by the shimmering reflections of trees. Hardrick captures the effect of light glistening off wide expanses of snow. The trees are cut off below the top of the composition, eliminating the horizon line and imparting an abstract quality to the painting. In typical Impressionist style, the frigid stream is cropped on the left, implying the wintry scene continues into the viewer’s space.
Taylor, William E., and Harriet G. Warkel. A Shared Heritage: Art by Four African Americans. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1996.