Cock of the Walk, Face in the Door, SAD, Pandamonium, After the Storms, and Yes 

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Brent Harris, whose home and studio are in Pacifica, California, hails from Indiana. He moved with his family to New England before he started first grade, where he lived until he graduated from high school in 1970. The following summer he hitch-hiked to California. He met the woman who became his wife and they have lived happily in the San Francisco Bay Area since.

Grounded by his upbringing in the values of Middle America, Harris’ view of the world and his art draws its main influences from the diversity and acceptance found in coastal cities. Always an imaginative and creative child, his family’s moves sometimes left him to entertain himself until he made new friends. His first official foray into art came in a junior high school art class. Unfortunately, his early creative ambitions far surpassed his talent and his teacher advised him not to consider art in his future plans. Young and sensitive, Harris believed her. He still doodled and dabbled, but he never thought of this as art.

In California he gained knowledge and hopefully some wisdom through a number of usual and less usual jobs and volunteer opportunities. After his prosaic start on the east coast as a paper boy, then a super market bag boy, a theater usher and fast food worker, Harris became the youngest driving instructor in California, at that time, followed by fast-food and restaurant management. He next worked as a letter-press and offset printer, which led to a career in graphic arts. As a production manager for a printing and lithography firm, his job included printing World Series, Playoff and Rose Bowl tickets as well as other major events. Working full-time for a color separator who produced film for magazine advertisements, he completed his B.A. in cinema, twenty years post high school. His emphasis on film writing put him in touch with other filmmakers in the area and gave him the opportunity to serve as a film-festival juror at both the San Francisco International Film Festival and the United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF) at Stanford University.

After his rejection by a misguided art instructor, Harris had focused on writing, another early interest. Still, his creative drive manifested not only in the written word, but also in other areas. He has written screenplays, a novel (unproduced and unpublished) newsletters, crafted, created polymer clay figures, sewn art quilts, clothing and three-dimensional fiber art. He ultimately became frustrated with little to show from his writing and stopped for over five years. He found a way back into the kind of art he pursued in junior high school in a three-weekend class studying color pencil art. He found that he had some skill and took semi-private lessons for two years. His background in color and design from his career, his sense of story and flow from his writing and international travel informed his sensibilities and execution. Yet, he had still not discovered his métier.

During the first decade of the 21st century, the company Harris thought he would retire from closed, followed by unemployment and various jobs over the following ten years as well as health problems and surgeries. The most recent economic downturn at one point left him unemployed for two and a half years. Ultimately, for his art career, this proved fortunate. Trying to improve his chances for employment, he took internet-focused classes, at his local community college, which included art and design classes. Here, Harris had his first experience using oil paint and an epiphany. Literally from the first time he put paint to canvas, he said, “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, he painted more than forty pieces. Although he doesn’t discount his fiber pieces and other creative output, this felt like the beginning of his life as an artist. There have been delays, bumps and bruises along the way, but Harris is more driven and creative than ever.

An otherwise trying decade, starting in 2001, was trumped by 2012. At the end of January, 2012, he took a serious fall that resulted in seven stitches in his forehead and a sideways Harry Potter scar. After delayed physical therapy, he and his wife went on a long-dreamed-of trip to Kenya. They stayed with one of their two Kenyan sisters, women who lived with his wife’s family as exchange students while they attended college in America. They got to see the day-to-day life of their friends as well 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 they went, including the local supermarket. Although not focused on it, they felt the underlying tension from seeing compounds, walls, barbed wire and automatic weapons everywhere, counterpointed by slums, roadside shanty businesses and animals they had seen only in zoos, now backed by forests, savannahs and city-scapes.

Two days before Harris and his wife were to return home, they were car-jacked at gunpoint losing most of their money and belongings (Beauty and Terrorfor two Pacificans in Nairobi – San Jose Mercury – archived). Yet they walked away alive and mostly physically unharmed. Harris managed to save the memory card from one of his cameras and this, combined with two shoulder surgeries (one each side) led him to where he is today. While his output slowed, his focus on painting never wavered and he is painting again with zeal since the beginning of 2014. Encouragement from a friend convinced him to begin showing his photography as well. Physical limitations helped him find the wonders and beauty of digital art and he’s still growing, finding new modes of expression. If that wasn’t enough, feeling a need he didn’t quite understand, he began writing again. The floodgates opened. He found his form and, more importantly, as a friend said he found his creative passion again. “I knew something felt missing, but I never knew what it was until it returned.” So, he is a fine artist, a digital artist/photographer, a satirist, essayist, and poet, each under a different name. There are reasons for this, but they’re not germane to this story. On his website, Brent Harris Fine Art, http://brent_harris.fineartamerica.com, and below, are links which will let you explore his other creative endeavors.

Harris trained more formally at Skyline Community College with Paul Bridenbaugh, Noah Buchanan and Eileen David, having previously studied with Julie A. Andrews. Harris has consistently been chosen to exhibit in juried shows, both in galleries and online. Most recently, he received a Certificate of Excellence from Artavita for his painting Pandamonium, finishing in the top ten. He won the July 2013 ArtQuench.com show, “Summer,” having received two awards of special recognition in their prior show, “Self Discovery.” He received a third-place finish from ArtSceneToday.com in their “Joy to the World” show. He has often been a finalist and has received honorable mentions in several gallery shows. He views this as preparation to where he is today.

Harris came to painting, to art, late in life by some standards, but like Athena leaping full grown from Zeus’s forehead: He has come armed for the fray and applies himself 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.” Harris thinks “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 and unmitigated contempt for humanity and our home, Earth, appear rampant, pursuing art is a hero’s journey. It is a just battle and he posits that anyone undertaking this quest needs to cultivate bravery, humility, strength, and whatever help, support, or inspiration the universe presents or provides.”

Harris believes 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. He explores his dream, his vision, through landscape, portraiture, juxtapositions, social comment and humor. In search of a more encompassing description of his art, Harris would choose expressionism, aiming to capture not just objective reality, but also the subjective emotions and feelings a person might encounter as a response to certain objects, events and art. He examines how we see the world through color and image, combining ideas and images until they coalesce into a cohesive whole. Our current social concerns, perceived injustice and anything that speaks to Harris may serve as his inspiration. He believes that one person can change the world, even if it’s only one person at a time.

As Harris expressed it, “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.

“This is what I strive to create. And, however short I may fall of my goal, I will always try to bring the best of myself to my art.”

More art, as well as giclees, prints, posters and cards may be found through the following links:






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3 Responses to “Home”

  1. […] 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 […]

  2. Greetings! I’ve been reading your site for a long time now
    and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout
    out from Kingwood Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up
    the good job!

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