BIOGRAPHY

"Art: The quality or expression according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. I am drawn to those final five words - of more than ordinary significance. The thought comforts and supports me. It gets me up in the morning, propels me to the studio, works me in a perpetual loop of painting, repainting, drawing, erasing, rearranging. More than persistence it is faith - the sum of things hoped for, things sensed, but not seen. I have devoted decades of time, feelings, money, hope and belief. I am compelled; nothing else will do. This creative life is a career, but also a life journey, and is therefore often amorphous, without clear goals or paths to achievement. For how does one achieve that which is "of more than ordinary significance?"

In the end, it is more about attempting than attaining: attempting to confront the old realities of myself, and then - through "hard payment" - rearrange and reconfigure myself with the two-dimensional surface of the work. Push hard enough, long enough, and we - both the work and I - turn, slip, morph into a place of resolution. A moment. The confusion, the unknowing, the tension have been exhausted; darkness is made visible. My internal self, the outside world, and the work - the art - are at last united. There is salvation in these moments or reluctant birth, where love is married to color and line. Through this inner revolution I can transcend the ordinary, predictable, satisfied self and use chaos to discover - however briefly - an opening, an adventure, a genuine, compelling thing that is far more than ordinary. A thing of significance, of truth."
 
Von Helms works in the tradition of non-figurative abstract expressionism. He describes his paintings as dialogues between his inner self and the canvas. When he paints he surrenders himself to the process and allows his emotions and intellect to become fused with the final work. Upon entering his studio, Von Helms forgets everything but that which is before him and draws no references from anything but the canvases on which he paints. He surrenders himself to the journey for he says, "In the end it is not about attaining, but more about attempting. In my attempt I come face to face with the old realities of myself, and then, through 'hard payment' rearrange and reconfigure simultaneously my inner self and the two dimensional surface of the work in progress." The evolution of Von Helms's work has moved from the straight, simple yet dramatic petroglyph-like images of the '80s into the sophisticated, energetic bold-color canvasses of the '90s. Today he may repaint a single canvas as many as five times, giving his paintings a surface of thick and thin overlays with a palpable sense of edge and energy. Von Helms says, "When my process is pushed hard enough, long enough, the work and I seem to turn around a point and slip into a state of resolution. The curtain comes down, the play is finished. For the moment, all confusion, unknowing, and tension has been exhausted. Darkness is made visible. The emotions within me, the world outside, and the painting are all, at last, united. There is communication. It becomes a kind of salvation."
 
b. Bryn Mar, Pennsylvania, 1939

EDUCATION

1960 - 1965:
BA Fine Arts/Graphics; BA Art History
Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
 
1966-1967:
Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY
 
1967 - 1968:
Graduate work, Fine Art/Art History
Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
 
1968 - 1973:
Freelance/Professional Photographer 
Rhode Island and New York City, NY
 
1973 - 1987:
Advertising Photographer, Houston, TX
 
1981 - 1988:
Began Fine Art Painting/Graphics, Houston, TX
 
1987 - 2016:
Fine Art Painter, Santa Fe, NM
 
2016 - Current:
Fine Art Painter, Houston, TX
 
SOLO EXHIBITIONS
 
2019:
"Soul Work," Dimmitt Contemporary Art, Houston, TX
 
2015:
"Sum of Destructions," WALL Gallery, Dallas, TX
 
2014:
"Paintings as Dialogue," WALL Gallery, Dallas, TX
 
2011:
"The Ongoing Present Moment," Matthews Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
 
2010:
"Passionate Chaos," Matthews Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
 
2008:
"Signs of Another Language," Deloney Newkirk Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
 
2003:
Anderson Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NM
 
1996 - 1997:
The New Gallery, Houston, TX
 
1994 - 1995:
Gremillion & Co. Fine Art, Houston, TX
 
1993:
William Christopher Gallery, Tucson, AZ
 
1991 - 1992:
"Michael von Helms: Painter, Paintings," Sena Galleries, Santa Fe, NM
 
1989:
No. 11 East Ashland Place Gallery, Phoenix, AZ
 
1987 - 1988:
Ogilvie & Mather Advertising, Houston, TX
 
1985 - 1986:
Marshak Advertising Agency, Houston, TX
 
1984:
Craig, Lamm, Hensley & Alderman Advertising, Houston, TX
M.C.C. & M. Advertising, Houston, TX
 
1983:
Craig, Lamm, Hensley & Alderman Advertising, Houston, TX
 
1982:
Alabama Street Atelier/Gallery, Houston, TX
 
GROUP EXHIBITIONS
 
2018:
"Emergence," Dimmitt Contemporary Art, Houston, TX
 
2007:
Deloney Newark Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
 
2006:
"Acclaimed Artists/Art in Public Places," State of New Mexico Program
 
2004 - 2005:
Desert Academy School, Santa Fe, NM
Anderson Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NM
 
2002:
Anderson Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NM
 
1998 - 1999:
Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art, Houston, TX
 
1994 - 1995:
Gremillion & Co. Fine Art, Houston, TX
 
1992:
"Art Chicago," Chicago, IL
 
1991:
"New American Talent," A Juried Group Show
Juror: Richard Marshall, Whitney Museum of American Art Texas Fine Arts Association
Laguna Gloria AustinMuseum of Art, Austin, TX
 
1990 - 1991:
New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
 
1990:
Sena Galleries, Santa Fe, NM
 
1987 - 1990:
Houston Art Directors Annual Fine Art Auction, Houston, TX
 
1986:
"Fresh Paint I," Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
 
1985:
"Synergy '85," Glassell School of Art, Houston, TX
2007:
Deloney Newark Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
 
2006:
"Acclaimed Artists/Art in Public Places," State of New Mexico Program
 
2004 - 2005:
Desert Academy School, Santa Fe, NM
Anderson Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NM
 
2002:
Anderson Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NM
 
1998 - 1999:
Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art, Houston, TX
 
1994 - 1995:
Gremillion & Co. Fine Art, Houston, TX
 
1992:
"Art Chicago," Chicago, IL
 
1991:
"New American Talent," A Juried Group Show
Juror: Richard Marshall, Whitney Museum of American Art Texas Fine Arts Association
Laguna Gloria AustinMuseum of Art, Austin, TX
 
1990 - 1991:
New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
 
1990:
Sena Galleries, Santa Fe, NM
 
1987 - 1990:
Houston Art Directors Annual Fine Art Auction, Houston, TX
 
1986:
"Fresh Paint I," Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
 
1985:
"Synergy '85," Glassell School of Art, Houston, TX