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Lynne Mapp Drexler found her artistic voice during one of the most exciting and significant art movements of the 20th century. Born in the Tidewater region of southeast Virginia in 1928, Drexler began her study of art as a child. Her parents, Lynne P. Drexler and Norman E. Drexler, were very supportive of both the visual and performing arts, enrolling Drexler in various art courses. The death of her father at age fifty-two would be one of Drexler's greatest life challenges. Her mother remained committed to her daughter's creative pursuits. After attending the College of William and Mary, Drexler traveled throughout Europe.

Upon her return to Virginia, Drexler was encouraged to explore contemporary art by some of her more influential friends and acquaintances including artists Ward Bennett and Hans Peter Kahn. After moving to New York in 1955, Drexler immersed herself in movement of Abstract Expressionism, studying with Hans Hofmann in both his Provincetown and New York schools. It would be Hofmann's work as a colorist and his theories on color that would be one of Drexler's most significant influences. She eventually went on to study with another renowned artist and teacher, Robert Motherwell, at Hunter College. His intellectual views on Abstract Expressionism guided Drexler's own process of creating art. Drexler admired him for his intellect, stating that he had "the finest mind I have ever met in the world."  Her training from Motherwell, along with Hofmann’s lessons on color theory, would set the foundation for Drexler's approach to painting. Her swatch-like patterns and vivid array colors are quite distinctive when compared to her contemporaries of the Abstract Expressionist genre. By 1961, Drexler would have her first solo show at the Tanager Gallery.

Drexler met painter John Hultberg at an Artists' Club party. The couple was already well integrated into the bohemian lifestyle of the New York art scene. They frequented various hubs of activity including the legendary Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village which had been a gathering place for New York’s avant-garde. The relationship progressed quickly, and the couple married in 1962.

Hultberg's art dealer, Martha Jackson, arranged the purchase of a house on Monhegan Island, Maine. The island, which had a small summer art colony, was the perfect respite from the uninhibited lifestyle of the New York social scene. The change of scenery was also an effort by Jackson to temper Hultberg's excessive drinking. For Drexler, summering on the island would be a major turning point in her life. The solitude of the island and the inspiration of the natural surroundings would impact her artistic career. Drexler would sketch outdoors on the island. Back in New York during the winters, these sketches were reimagined into large colorful abstract paintings.

Drexler's life-long passion for music would also come to define her creative expression. She frequented the opera with sketchbook in hand for inspiration. "I would sit and draw through the the music,” Drexler recalled. “It was just the soaring...the gloriousness of the music. The beauty, the power and the glory of it." 

Throughout the mid-'60s, Drexler and Hultberg traveled extensively to places such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and the islands of Hawaii. While in Los Angeles, Drexler created a series of lithographs at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, many of which would be acquired by prominent museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Art. Upon their return to New York in the late-'60s, they moved into the Chelsea Hotel which was a mecca for the arts community.


Like many women, Drexler encountered many obstacles in her search for gallery representation within the gender-biased atmosphere of the New York gallery world. While galleries were courting her husband, Drexler faced the insult and indignity of being ignored or belittled. As the mid-'60s approached, the movement of Abstract Expressionism entered its decline, eventually being replaced by Pop Art and, shortly there-after, Op Art. Drexler was already making her own transition away from the movement by applying her signature style to a new series of visionary abstract paintings. Many of her abstract paintings created just after 1962 are clearly inspired by the landscape with the concepts of musical elements helping to guide the pictorial arrangements.

Drexler moved permanently to Monhegan Island in 1983. The relationship between Drexler and Hultberg had often been tumultuous. The couple continued to grow distant, eventually separating. Meanwhile, Drexler had become an integral member of the year-round island community. Of the island she would say, "There is no isolation in a place like this...impossible to find, but solitude is respected."  The remoteness and solitude of the island would impact her work. Her paintings often reflect the everyday routines of life such as views from her windows, interior views of her house and even chores such as hanging laundry. The still life also became an important subject in Drexler's repertoire, often floral arrangements peppered with dolls from her collection. These depictions came to symbolize her acceptance and appreciation for her life on the island. Drexler summed up her painting career on the island in her distinctive Tidewater Virginia drawl, "I sell enough here to make a living off of. I am not rich...but I have what I want. As long as I have food, heat, roof over my head, food for the cat, and paint I am happy. Oh, and Jack Daniel's."

After Drexler was diagnosed with cancer, her closest friends became her hospice care group which allowed her the dignity of staying on the island. Drexler passed away in 1999 on Monhegan Island surrounded by her friends and fellow islanders. After her death, the estate had been bequeathed to her friends who were charged with the difficult task of assessing her body of work. While extracting the many paintings from the Drexler house, the executors of the estate, as well as the townspeople, were shocked to realize the magnitude and multitude of paintings. Works of art not seen for decades were pulled from the basement, closets, and from the many stacks of paintings piled on mattresses. It was revealed that Drexler, who was very hesitant to talk about her career as an artist in New York, had not divulged the fact that these paintings even existed, including masterpieces from the era of Abstract Expressionism.

The first comprehensive museum exhibition of Drexler's work ran at the Monhegan Museum in 2008, and also at the Portland Museum of Art in 2008 and 2009. Since then, her work has been exhibited widely in New York, Chicago, and London. In 2020, the first comprehensive gallery retrospective exhibition of more than 50 works from the late 1950s to the mid-1980s was presented by J. Kenneth Fine Art in Palm Desert, California. The exhibition marked the fourth in a series of solo exhibitions presented in California with works consigned directly from the Drexler Estate.

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