Photo by Gene X Hwang.

For artist Britt Henze, who goes by the name Lady Henze professionally, her work is a reflection of her own duality, particularly as it relates to her addiction recovery. 

Henze, an abstract painter who is self-taught, is most known for her bright colors and sharp geometric shapes, often triangles. 

“On one hand, I like to be a perfectionist; things must be in their place and very orderly,” Henze said. 

The artist also occasionally does more whimsical pieces, with less consistent patterns and more spontaneity. 

“On the other hand, I like to be meditative and loose and playful,” Henze said. 

Henze, who is 37, typically uses these styles separately, depending on the commission. But recently, she was commissioned for some artwork in the stairwell of a condominium complex. 

“Originally, we were going to do a cohesive design, all of the floors in the same style,” Henze said. “But people on the lower floors liked tighter geometric shapes.” 

To compromise, Henze used a looser design on the top three floors at 227 Guerrero St., and more organized geometric shapes on the first two floors. Without realizing it, a condo stairwell suddenly became a reflection of her own duality, which she hopes will resonate with the people seeing her art every day. 

For the top floors, “The takeaway is that there are no mistakes. … I don’t always know how things are going to work out. I have a sketch, but it’s different when I’m on the wall,” Henze said of her artistic process. “You can’t make a mistake if you’re moving forward, doing the best you can.” 

Henze also hopes the work evokes feelings of home and nostalgia, which is particularly relevant at a time when so many people have been forced to stay apart from their loved ones. 

“I haven’t seen family in over a year and a half. My sister had a child and is about to have another child, and I haven’t been home,” Heze said, adding that her family lives in Colorado. “I think the takeaway is, there is no permanent. I will see my family again. I have memories, and so I have a way to access the love for my family.”

Most of all, Henze said, she hopes her work gives others hope. 

“There’s hope in the future because as I look back at my past, no matter how hard things have been or how weary, there’s always good mixed in.” Henze said. “I paint about that experience a lot.”

Photo by Gene X Hwang.
Photo by Gene X Hwang.
Photo by Gene X Hwang.
Photo by Gene X Hwang.

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Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at Golden Gate Xpress, SF State’s student paper.

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  1. Lady Henze’s work touches me so — i see the duality & applaud her ingenuity and her tight/loose use of gesture & color— plus she’s just a total blast as a person!

    **Kudos also to the great Photos by Gene X Hwang — he really caught the spirit of Lady Henze working

  2. I adore Lady Henry work. Her use of color is a total blast. Unexpected and cheerful, exactly right for public art. Go, girl !