John Seed Interviews Adam Harrison
I grew up in Boulder Colorado, in eyeshot of the Boulder Flatirons, where I was born into a pretty artistic family. Starting with my dad, whom I remember making intricate drawings of complicated circuitry and the like for electric engineers on his drafting table, would also show me wonderful M.C Escher type drawings that he made on his downtime during the Vietnam War. My grandmother on my father's side was one the founding members of the Helena Arts Council, which eventually turned into the Holter Museum of Art. Visiting gallery spaces, which exhibited curated shows put on by my grandmother, made a great impact on me. Also my mother, being a published children's book writer, surrounded me with books on artists and art techniques all my life.
Yes. The most important mentors for me would have to be Stephen Douglas from my time in Laguna, who taught me not to be afraid of paint; and Domenic Cretara and Yu Ji from Long Beach, for teaching me the value of working from life.
I've been painting cityscapes since 2011. It was June of that same year when I saw a retrospective for Antonio Lopez Garcia. I was immediately impressed with Garcia's devotion to working with subjects he knew very well, like the city of Madrid, and also to his commitment to working from life. And that's when I started to paint and draw my city of West Los Angeles.
One of the most recent paintings came from the discovery of this huge pit, which was excavated about seven years ago on the grounds of Santa Monica College. When I was first hired there as an adjunct professor of drawing I was shown around the arts facility and came across this construction site. I was immediately taken by the vastness of the space carved out beneath the feet of Pico Blvd and the daily life outside of its tall construction fence - however it is completely invisible from everywhere except a few high outlooks from the college. "1900 Pico Boulevard", like all my paintings, was chosen by three criteria: practical to get to, and set up for a painting, i.e. workplace. Secondly, the location has to have a certain impact on first discovery. Lastly, the site has to be memorable, so much so, that the thought of not painting it, seems much worse than the energy and time needed to complete it.
I would agree that there is a fair amount of seriousness and reserve in my paintings but my working conditions force me to be spontaneous too; which yes, perhaps could describe my personality.
Well, I've already mentioned Garcia, but to list off the other artist which have been the greatest help to my development as an artist would have to be: Euan Uglow, Andrew Wyeth, Claude Monet and Rackstraw Downes.
I enjoy the outdoors, such as the rugged coastline of Northern California. Also, attending theater and visiting museums with my girlfriend, and reading history books - currently The Journals Of Lewis and Clark.
Every time I head out to my painting site I experience a certain level of anxiety and it can take me a good twenty to thirty minutes to relax enough to enter the painting. But the strange thing is, I love working in public spaces, even past the nerves, I always gain new history and stories of the worksite by meeting the people who live and work around these areas.
ADAM HARRISON: Thousand Skies
September 12 - October 24, 2015
The George Billis Gallery
2716 S. La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034