BORDER CROSSINGS REVISITED: The Paintings of Charles Novacek in Hartland

BORDER CROSSINGS REVISITED: The Paintings of Charles Novacek in Hartland

Invasion III“This painting is part of a series on war I am painting as I work on my memoir about my life during wartime. The tragic past I set behind me forever, and write about it only to benefit the young; perhaps they could learn from it and avoid another war.”

Ten 21 Press in Detroit, MI is pleased to announce the exhibition of “Border Crossings Revisited,” a retrospective of paintings by the late Czechoslovakian born American artist Charles Novacek at Cromaine Library in Hartland, MI. The exhibit will open on Friday, May 9, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at a gala after hours opening/fundraiser and be on display through June 6, 2014 during library hours. The exhibit is sponsored by Cromaine District Library and the Friends of Cromaine Library.

Novacek’s works range from portraiture to landscapes and acrylic with a few deeply expressive watercolors. Commenting on the show’s theme Novacek once said, ” I have been crossing borders my entire life, whether they be geographical, cultural, educational, physical or interpersonal. I’ve always been challenged by the crossings as they inevitably bring conflict and the great reward of learning something new. Most of the paintings in this collection were produced after extensive travel to South America , the Caribbean, Central Asia, Uzbekistan, China, Russia, and Central Europe.”

Novacek’s observational skills make for compelling portraits. Samarkand Child is a poignant and powerful portrait of a beggar he found crying on a street curb in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.  Through this portrait, Novacek the artist and the man speaks of his experience with the pain and beauty of life.

Novacek aspired to be a professional artist and musician in his native Czechoslovakia.  But in the late 1930s, the political situation in Europe began to change.  Art schools were closed by Adolf Hitler and Novacek’s dream of attending art school was shattered. His entire family became involved in the resistance movement against the Nazis and at the age of 15 Novacek’s father enrolled him in an engineering college to avoid being drafted into Hitler’s emergency relief organization.

After World War II ended, the Russian Communists invaded Novacek’s homeland. Involved with dangerous work in the resistance movement against the Communists, Novacek was forced to flee to the U. S. Zone in Bavaria, becoming a refugee.

In 1956 Novacek was able to immigrate with his family to the U.S. where he settled in Detroit and pursued his career as a registered professional engineer. After retirement in 1985, Novacek returned to painting and stone carving. He fulfilled a lifelong dream when he earned his Master of Arts degree in painting from Eastern Michigan University in 1993.Before his death in 2007, Novacek wrote a memoir, Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance ( about his life experiences. It was published by Ten21 Press in October 2012 and endorsed by Madeleine Albright. Novacek’s widow Sandra Novacek,former Cromaine District Library Director (1975-1996) will present a breakfast program on her publication of the  book at Waldenwoods on May 9, 2014. She is also coordinating the “Border Crossings Revisited” exhibit. Novacek accompanied her husband on many of the trips where he met and observed the subjects of his paintings. “There is a fascinating story behind each one of them,” she said. For library information call 313.632.5200 or visit

2 Replies to “BORDER CROSSINGS REVISITED: The Paintings of Charles Novacek in Hartland”

  1. This is great also. Oh, how I wish we were closer in miles, but with so many things going on all of the time for both of us, it seems as though distance is a real problem. I wish you well, friend.

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