Fine Art Connoisseur

BO BARTLETT STILL KEEPING US GUESSING

Perhaps you are familiar with the abstract paintings made by Betsy Eby, but you are almost certainly acquainted with what she looks like. A large percentage of the paintings created by her husband, James “Bo” Bartlett III (b. 1955), feature Betsy – clad, nude, looking this way or that, sitting, reclining, gazing off dreamily, or staring right at the viewer. It has now gotten to the point that, Bartlett admits, “when we walk down the street, people don’t know who I am, but they sure know who Betsy is. So, by default, they might know who I am.”

Bo Bartlett didn’t always put Betsy in every painting he created. The 65-year-old artist was portraying women during the 1980s and ’90s, before the two even met — they married in 2007 — yet many figures in those early works look just like her anyway. One picture from 1987, , a dream-like image of identical sleeping women floating up toward the sky, could be multiple portraits of Betsy but for the fact that they hadn’t been introduced yet. Bartlett confides, “A longtime friend of mine, when he met Betsy, told me, ‘This is the person you’ve been painting your whole life.’ So, even though none of the women in are Betsy, they all are. She was sort of my archetypal feminine, so for years I concocted and dreamed up figures that look like her. When I finally met Betsy, I was

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