Blake Van Hoof (1994-2010) lived a short 16 years, yet his paintings reveal both a vision and a talent that are simply “cosmic.” Blake was in many respects a typical teenager when he died. He loved diving, bike racing, and skateboarding, and flying kites on the beautiful beaches his family called home in Florida and New England. He loved his girlfriend, and he loved to travel, having visited China, Costa Rica and Holland already as well as many parts of the US. Yet his paintings – less than 15 major pieces created in just the last four weeks of his life – reveal something rare and unusual in anyone of any age, let alone a teenager: a compelling inner vision of the Universe – Blake’s universe – that draws the viewer in and along his ride through the cosmos. Blake’s Universe is both realistic and highly imaginative, detailed yet broad, surreal and yet strangely reminiscent of archetypal images we all carry of the universe – awesome, purposeful, and beyond comprehension.
Blake emerged from the incomparable artistic lineage of the esteemed Packard family that began with the world renowned Max Bohm, his great-grandfather. A leading turn-of-the-(20th) century impressionist, Bohm was known for his bold use of color and his soft lines at the edges of clear objects, leaving the eye with definition and mystery at the same time. Anne Packard, his grandmother, is among the most respected artists of her generation, having developed a style edgier and distinct from, but thematically related to, Bohm. Her daughter, Cynthia Packard, is an unquestionable master of color, brush stroke and the human form, a subject quite different from her mother’s or grandfathers’. Leslie Packard, Anne’s younger daughter and Blake’s mother, was the last in that generation to take up the brush, developing a distinctly modern and more abstract body of work. As a turn-of-the-21st century artist, Blake got the family gene for line, color and form, but had an entirely different object of fascination than any of his predecessors. These paintings are truly Blake’s Universe, and no one else’s.