Art Quench Gallery Presents; Brent Harris
The WINNER of the
July “ SUMMER ” Art Competition
Brent has won one year of representation with
Art Quench Gallery.
We would like to welcome Brent to the Art Quench family.
Winning Image titled;
“Along the Volga”
Juror; MONICA HICKS
In Southern California, we have a very prominent summer. It is HOT, it is STICKY, it can be dry and it is also what brings the abundance of tourists and visitors to our state. They come for the beaches, and the sunshine, Hollywood, and the fame. This painting reminds me of those places in Hollywood Hills or along the way, hidden in back, upper class neighborhoods that mimic a calm, rural life, but are far from it. The luxury of the quiet being a benefit of the fast paced and rich lives celebrities live.
As a society, we see the summer as a break, a bit of freedom in the middle of the year. When in reality, MOST of society works everyday of the week every month of the year. This painting speaks to vacation, luxury, calm, and summer, all in one.
A mid-westerner by birth who moved to New England before I started school, my view of the world is influenced by the diversity found in coastal cities. This became more so when I hitch-hiked to California after I graduated from high-school. I met the woman who would become my wife shortly after I arrived and we have lived happily in the San Francisco Bay Area ever since.
Along the way I’ve gained knowledge and hopefully wisdom through a number of usual and less usual jobs and volunteer opportunities. I started prosaically as a paper boy, then a super market bag boy, a theater usher, fast food worker, a driving instructor (the youngest ever in California at that time), then fast-food and restaurant management, letter-press and offset printing. I next went into production management for printing and lithography, which included printing World Series, Playoff and Rose Bowl tickets among others. While working full time for a color separator who produced film for magazine advertisements, I completed my BA in cinema, twenty years post high school. I’ve been a film-festival juror at both the San Francisco International Film Festival and the United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAff) at Stanford University. I’ve written screenplays, a novel (unproduced and unpublished) newsletters, crafted, sewn art quilts and clothing, studied color pencil art semi-privately, pursued basic art training and traveled globally.
As you will see on my website Brent Harris Fine Art, I believe that every experience we have, every living being we interact with, and everything we experience in life makes us who we are. All that we have and all that we are infuses us and is expressed in the way we live and the dreams we cherish. As to art, alas, my early creative ambitions outstripped any talent I had to the point that a Junior High School art teacher advised me that I should not consider art in my future. Being a young teenager, I believed her. Yet, as I lived my life, creative urges kept surfacing. I pursued them in the forms above, settling on screenplays, since I’d always dreamed of being a writer. Finally, with no success, I decided I should stop writing.
During the first decade of the 21st century, the company I thought I would retire from closed, followed by unemployment and various jobs over those ten years as well as health problems and surgeries. The most recent economic downturn at one point left me unemployed for two and a half years. To hopefully improve my chances for employment, I took internet-focused classes, at my local junior college, which included art and design in their Art department. Here, I had my first experience using oil paint and an epiphany. Literally from the first time I put paint to canvas, I felt I’d found what I’d been looking for, I’d come home. That was in the winter, 2008. During the next three years, I painted more than forty pieces. Although my fiber art pieces count, this felt like the beginning of my life as an artist.
However, an otherwise trying decade, starting in 2001, was trumped by 2012. At the end of January, 2012, I took a serious fall that resulted in seven stitches in my forehead and a sideways Harry Potter scar. After delayed physical therapy, my wife and I went on a long- dreamed-of trip to Kenya. We stayed with one of our two Kenyan sisters, women who lived with my wife’s family as exchange students while they attended college in America. We got to see the day-to-day life of our friends as wells as the beauty and grandeur of East Africa. This truly amazing experience was underscored by roads which ranged from adequate to uneven corrugated, the presence of armed guards and searches everywhere we went, including the local supermarket. Although not focused on it, we felt the underlying tension from seeing compounds, walls, barbed wire and automatic weapons everywhere counterpointed by slums and roadside shanty businesses everywhere, and by animals we had previously seen only in zoos backed by forests, savannahs and city-scapes.
Two days before we were to return home, we were car-jacked at gunpoint and lost most of our money and belongings (Beauty and terror for two Pacificans in Nairobi – San Jose Mercury ). Yet we walked away alive and mostly physically unharmed. I managed to save the memory card from one of my cameras and this, combined with two shoulder surgeries (one each side) led me to where I am today. While my output has slowed, my focus is still painting. Encouragement from a friend convinced me to begin showing my photography. Physical limitations helped me find the wonders and beauty of digital art and I’m still growing and finding new modes of expression. If that wasn’t enough, feeling a need I didn’t quite understand, I began writing again. The floodgates opened. I found my form and, more importantly, as a friend said I found my creative passion again. I knew something felt missing, but I never knew what it was until it returned. So, I am a fine artist, a digital artist/photographer, a satirist/essayist, and sometimes poet, each under a different name. There are reasons for this, but they’re not germane to my story here. At Art Quench you will find my paintings. On my website, Brent Harris Fine Art, and below you will find links which will let you explore the results of my other creative endeavors.
I come to painting, to art, late in life by some standards, but like Athena leaping full grown from Zeus’s forehead; I have come armed for the fray and apply myself with a will. As a Wikipedia entry has it, “Athena is goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. Athena is also a shrewd companion of heroes and is the goddess of heroic endeavors.” This as a description of a creative life in our modern world is well suited to our reality. Honest creation, creation from the heart, spirit and mind, no matter what our age or the age of man, requires courage, inspiration, strength, strategy, art, craft and skill. In this time where callous greed, corrupt self-interest, & unmitigated contempt for humanity and our home, Earth, appear rampant, pursuing art is a hero’s journey. It is a just battle and we who have undertaken this quest need to cultivate bravery, humility, strength, and whatever help, support, or inspiration the universe presents or provides.
Violence proliferates, the climate degenerates, and our hopes appear to evaporate. Artists, the creative among us in all fields, not just what is by tradition referred to as art, challenge us to examine our follies and admit our imperfections through their continual striving to express the best of themselves. But they also challenge us by direct confrontation, holding mirrors to our perfidy, sometimes simply by presenting something so honest, so striking, beautiful and true that we must acknowledge our weaknesses and seek our higher selves. We may smile or nod, laugh or cry, or show no indication we have been changed, but we remember love, hope and laughter and we understand that every living being shares these same emotions. We see something so incredible in itself, so obviously art, that we are struck to our core with its blinding beauty and transformative power, even if the surface appears hideous or causes pain, fear and sadness. After we have seen it, experienced it in whatever form it takes, we will be forever changed, unable to live as we did previously.