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Krishna Paintings to Show at Crow Collection of Asian Art
By Madhava Smullen   |  Сен 04, 2014

Twenty beautiful paintings of Lord Krishna by the late celebrated traditional artist B.G. Sharma are set to show at the prestigious Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, Texas this fall.

The exhibition will be named “Seeing and Believing: Krishna in the Art of B.G. Sharma.”

While the previously scheduled September exhibition opening has been temporarily postponed due to construction, art lovers are anxiously awaiting the announcement of a new date, which its expected to be sometime in October.

When the exhibition does arrive, it will show for six months and include a partnership with ISKCON Dallas’ Radha-Kalachandji temple. Once a month, the temple will arrange special events featuring Vaishnava music presentations and sanctified prasadam food at the Crow Collection museum, while guests take in the art.

Curators at the museum will also encourage viewers to visit Radha-Kalachandji’s to take in the temple’s own B.G. Sharma paintings. In turn, devotees at the temple will direct their guests to the Crow Collection.

It’s a great opportunity for art lovers to immerse themselves in paintings that are a gorgeous display of love of Krishna and technical skill, all brought about by an exceedingly interesting turn of events.

Enter Henry Flood Schoellkopf, an intriguing jack-of-all-trades who has been an explorer with the Cousteau Society, and is currently a philanthropist and avid art collector.

Henry also has a decades-old connection with ISKCON, stemming back to when he visited the ISKCON temple in his native Washington D.C. for a Sunday Feast in 1969, when he was just thirteen years old.

Although an isolated experience, he remembered it favorably and visited the Los Angeles ISKCON temple years later in 1983.

“I really bonded with the devotees then,” he says. “That same year, I found myself in Vrindavana, India, and then in Udaipur in Rajasthan. And that’s where I met B.G. Sharma.”

Knowing that Henry was an art collector, his Udaipur guide suggested that he take him to meet the famed artist, but cautioned, “He never sells his work. He just keeps it and publishes it. So don’t expect him to sell you anything.”

Sharma, however, took a liking to Henry, and sold him two paintings of Lord Krishna on his very first visit. Over the next twenty years, until Sharma’s death in 2007, Henry continued to visit him at his home gallery regularly, and buy paintings each time.

The two soon struck up a friendship. “He was a devotee of Sri Nathji, and took me to the Sri Nathji temple in Nathdwara, where he was born, several times,” says Henry. “Eventually I got to meet his family, and eat with them. He was such a jolly, friendly person, and each time he brought out a painting to show me, and I oohed and ahhed over it, he would laugh with delight.”

Henry felt honored that B.G. Sharma personally chose each painting he sold him, and even painted one especially for him, effectively building Henry’s collection himself.

“Later, the curators at the Crow Collection told me that these were the best pieces they’d ever seen by B.G. Sharma,” he says. “And the reason is that he wanted me to have the best pieces.”

It was in June 2012, at a release party in Dallas, Texas for the late Tamal Krishna Goswami’s book A Living Theology of Krishna Bhakti, that Henry’s paintings began to find their way to the Crow Collection.

Henry was attending the event because one of his B.G. Sharma paintings had been used on the book’s cover. Noting this, businessman and ISKCON Dallas congregation member Atul Vohra introduced himself, saying that he was friends with the chairman of the board at the Crow Collection of Asian Art and that they may be interested in exhibiting the paintings.

“Atul and his wife Ritika deserve the major credit for making this show happen, and linking it so closely with Sri Sri Radha Kalachandji Mandir,” Henry says.

Founded by the late real estate developer Trammell Crow and his wife Margaret – who both travelled around the world collecting Asian art – The Crow Collection takes up the first few floors of a skyscraper office building in downtown Dallas. Its collection of Asian art is free to view for the general public, but until now the museum held few Indian or South Asian pieces.

“When Trammell S. Crow, the son of the gallery’s founder, came to see the paintings at my house, he fell in love with them,” says Henry.

The Crow Collection immediately took on all of Henry’s twenty B.G. Sharma paintings for exhibition, and its curators spent hundreds of hours researching B.G. Sharma and the Vaishnava iconography in his paintings in order to create informational plaques explaining each one.

The paintings to be exhibited include one large cloth piece, four standard sized paintings, and fifteen miniatures, all painted in a classical style with natural mineral colors created by B.G. Sharma himself, and all conveying the rich sweetness in the relationships between Lord Krishna and his devotees.

 The large cloth piece features Lord Krishna holding up Govardhana Hill. Another shows Krishna with his eternal consort Srimati Radharani and her gopi friends, singing with various musical instruments as the moon crests the horizon. One shows a cow and a gopi in a prayerful mood before Lord Krishna as he plays his flute.

And another standout, pictured in this article, depicts Lord Krishna with the cowherd boys and their calves sheltering beneath a tree in a storm, as rain pelts down and lightning – created with real gold leaf by B.G. Sharma – flashes.

“I feel like Krishna gave him a vision of the spiritual world, which manifested in his paintings,” Henry says.

With the museum free to the general public, and many school and university groups often invited for tours, Henry expects “Seeing and Believing: Krishna in the Art of B. G. Sharma” to reach a lot of people.

“These paintings are like windows into the spiritual world,”he says. “People fall in love with them because they’re just so beautiful. I think they will open people’s eyes and hearts, and introduce them to the beauty of Krishna and the spiritual world in a very nice, first class way.”

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For the latest updates on when the exhibit will be showing, please visit http://crowcollection.org/ai1ec_event/seeing-believing-krishna-art-b-g-sharma/

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