From the Author: Susan Hallsten McGarry
Hook's connection to his cousin and middle-name namesake, author Willa Cather (1873-1947), prompted an investigation of Cather's fiction, essays, and recently published letters. Although he never met her, Hook has read many of her novels and essays. In addition to sharing midwestern roots, he and Cather have a profound affection for the land and their philosophies of expressing that love are remarkably parallel. As Cather described in a letter, "It's the heat under the simple words that counts. I early learned that if you loved your theme enough you could be as mild as a May morning and still make other people care." Accordingly, we could not resist including her works where they convey the spirit of Hook and his art.
In retrospect, other themes also became apparent: Hook's passion for the shapes of light and dark, his penchant for pattern and dynamic design, his commitment to craftsmanship, and his goal of uniting traditional and modern by commingling pictorial illusion with pure paint - essentially, recording evocative subjects in sophisticated color relationships and surface treatments that reflect nature's harmonious abstractions.
"Nobody can paint the sun or sunlight. He can only paint the tricks that shadows play with it, or what it does to forms. He cannot even paint those relations of light and shade - he can only paint some emotion they give him...."
- Willa Cather, Light on Adobe Walls