Brilliance In Color - 25 King Street, St. Augustine, FL
"If you think about what Hart achieved in his best work, it’s not merely the artistic excellence that one admires; it is the singularity and courage of what he did." These words are spoken by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, in a 2009 interview. The words are strikingly similar to the response Rick gave sixteen years earlier when asked in another interview to characterize the legacy he hoped to achieve. In his somewhat self-conscious but candid response, Rick reveals that he would like to be remembered best as "a singular and major force" in reconnecting art to society.
Rick had long questioned the value and purpose of art and the role of the artist in a culture in which art no longer expressed the ancient values of truth, beauty, and goodness. Rick believed that "...art has a moral responsibility, that it must pursue something higher than itself. Art must be a part of life. It must exist in the domain of the common man. It must be an enriching, ennobling, and vital partner in the public pursuit of civilization. It should be a majestic presence in everyday life just as it was in the past." Rick’s philosophy put him in opposition to much of contemporary art and propelled him on a divergent trajectory into history.
It was a lonely and uncharted path, but the values Rick championed served as a compass enabling him to step forward with other artists at one of history’s critical junctures. Voices from the arts community put Rick in the forefront of a re-orientation of art in today’s culture. These artists, writers, art critics, gallery owners, and musicians speak of a burgeoning movement in art that celebrates craftsmanship and purpose and seeks to connect with a public in need of affirmation only art can offer.
Tom Wolfe commented in a New York Times Magazine article (January, 2000) where he said that Rick "…will not have been the first major artist to have died ten minutes before history absolved him and proved him right." As the twentieth century gave way to the next millennium, Rick’s life was cut short, but his journey continues. His expanding legacy is a bridge to the future he passionately anticipated.