ROBERT PATRICK HARRIS


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The most recent paintings are diptychs. One set of four 84 x 60” paintings seemingly depict four times zones in the continental United States. A fifth diptych - of clocks - is painted in fluorescent color and is literally too bright. Like our warming planet, it is too hot.

A second set of five works measure 60 x 84” and depict the Cyclone rollercoaster on Coney Island, New York City. These ‘cyclones’ are named after five major hurricanes: Harvey, Irma, Katrina, Maria and Sandy. This series began after completing “Surge”, a painting that references hurricane Sandy.

The images in the paintings are partially obscured by bands of color, producing a louvered visual field. This is similar to the louvered mist effects in Wang Hui’s painting from 1650: The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Tour, Scroll VII.

Prior to 1998, my work was brightly colored and highly impasted, often using a cinematic arrangement by placing multiple canvases in sequential order, like a zoetrope. After 1998, I shifted the paintings’ material substance from thick to thin. The thin works explored seemingly preternatural elements in our daily lives and focused on incidents of spiritual and intellectual compression. The Pollock –Krasner Foundation provided critical financial support for this body of work, awarding a $20,000 grant in October of 2000. Ten years after, a grant from United States Artists in Los Angeles funded a series of paintings that examined life and death on Big Mantrap Lake, Minnesota.

A chronology and description of my artistic career, outside employment, education, exhibitions and awards is here included. A Bachelor of Science in Fine Art was awarded in 1977 by South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD. A Master of Fine Arts degree was conferred in 1981 by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School, Madison, WI. In 1985, while serving as Director of the Civic Fine Arts Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, my painting Die Laughing (1984) won First Place: Painting, in an international exhibit organized by Scarsdale/Metro Art in New York City. Also in 1985, Hamburger High School (1985) received First Award in New American Talent, a nationwide art competition and exhibition at Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin, Texas. This led to a solo show at the Harris Gallery in Houston, Texas in 1985. Hired as Gallery Director for the College of Santa Fe (now known as the Santa Fe University of Art and Design) Fine Art Department, I moved to New Mexico and my work was awarded best-in-show at statewide competitive exhibits hosted by the College of Santa Fe, 1989 and the Los Alamos, NM Fuller Art Center in 2003. A solo show at the University of Colorado-Boulder was held in the fall of 1992. The Colorado Daily and Denver Post reviewed the exhibit.  The Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Fe curated a one-person exhibition, Rescuing Something of Substance, in 1994. The eight-foot, sequential paintings addressed social, political and environmental issues. WYSIWYG+or-9, 1993 (whizzywhig plus or minus nine) - an acronym for ‘what you see is what you get’, is a painting/zoetrope of a child trying to kill a frog. Like a film loop, nothing happens as the incident plays out over and over. Mercury (1998) is two paintings in one. Orange, blue and white when exposed to light and then, glows-in-the-dark when the lights are off. This effect is achieved by positioning Kodak glow-paper on the fish scales, rendering the invisible pollutant mercury, visible.

After two solo exhibits at LewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe in 1998 and 2000, a comprehensive survey of sixty-two paintings was shown in the Everist gallery at the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science, Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2001. The exhibits of 2000 and 2001 were the direct result of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation’s award of a grant in October of 2000.  Singular works in collective exhibitions were included at SITE Santa Fe in 1996 and the Sheldon Art Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1997. In Santa Fe: Aura Gallery, Galeria El Zocalo and LewAllen Contemporary hosted solo shows during the nineties. The New Mexico Museum of Art included the painting Twins (2004) in a 2005 exhibit: About The Face and works from The ManTrap Project (2010) were shown at the Santa Fe Art Institute in November, 2011. Recent works were exhibited at Yares Art Projects, Santa Fe in 2018. Serving as director of installations and shipping at LewAllen Contemporary in Santa Fe for nine years from 1993 to 2002 was instructive, fun and challenging. I worked with hundreds of artists from all over the United States. Moving on to the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos in 2005, I became Chair of the Fine Art Department and began teaching courses in Painting, Drawing, Art History and Modern Art. Since 2013, I have built four separate online Art History courses. The University of New Mexico-Los Alamos awarded a $3,500 grant – the 2015 Faculty Initiative Award - in recognition of the innovative design and instruction of these courses. A partial list of publications include: Contemporary Art in New Mexico by Jan Adlmann, edited by Barbara McIntyre, Craftsman House, 1996; New American Paintings, Open Studios Press in 1995 (Book V), 1998 (Book XVIII), and 2000 (Book XXX). THE Magazine: Santa Fe’s Monthly Magazine of the Arts, placed Mascara (1999) on its cover to accompany a feature article: The Universe of Patrick Harris, in May of 2000. In December of 2000, Architectural Digest reproduced four paintings in an article entitled: La Posada de Santa Fe. PasaTiempo, Santa Fe’s Weekly Magazine of the Arts, placed Made in China (1998) on its cover with a feature article on December 4, 1998. PasaTiempo then placed Harmony (2005) on the cover of its March 25, 2005 edition to accompany a review of a collective exhibit at Tadu Contemporary Art, Santa Fe. Goldfish (2006) also made the cover of the November 3, 2006 issue of PasaTiempo, featuring a review of a solo exhibit at Tadu.  Developing a mature style and consistent body of work over the past forty years has exposed me to considerable risk. Each setback requires innovation, resolve and a pertinacious belief in the work itself that supersedes personal and financial considerations. I strongly believe that these works expand the vocabulary of painting. Many people help me to continue painting with advice, employ, supporting funds and exhibitions. Their support is enabling and allows the work to evolve and achieve an ever-expanding stature in the field of visual art.