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54. Art Music Life Magazine
by: April DeGideo
Glenn Harren | Everyday Art and Beauty.
On any given day in a local Wawa, harried commuters jostle their way around a crowded coffee station. Focused solely on their imminent caffeine fix, they probably don’t stop to notice the contours and colors of the coffeepots or look too hard at the employee diligently cleaning the area.
But for Glenn Harren, an artist based in Lambertville, that was a setting of beauty.
“I saw those coffeepots, and all the shapes intrigued me,” recalls Harren. He visited several different Wawas until he found the perfect scene and a willing employee to stand for him while he snapped a photo and sketched a drawing.
“Art and beauty is everwhere,” explains Harren, who went to work to create “Coffee at Wawa” from his work that day. “It’s my job to show that to people.”
Harren’ appreciation of the ordinary shapes and colors in everyday life has garnered him critical acclaim and exhibitions across the Northeast and, as of last year, his own gallery.
“Lambertville is like a little international city and a bedroom town for New York City.” Says Harren, who’s originally from Pineville. “Lots of people come here to look for art, so it’s a perfect place for a gallery.”
It’s also a perfect place to showcase paintings of familiar landscapes from Bucks County to the Jersey shore, especially those that don’t typically find their way onto a canvas. Scenes like “The Yard Sale” and “Lambertville Flea Market” offer forgettable moments of everyday life. Harren says that was exactly his intent.
“I bear witness to the world out there. He says. “I just respond to the shapes and colors all around me.”
Harren’s gallery, located a 22 Church Street, is the realization of a lifelong dream and quite a long way from the job he took to finance his education at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
Every night, young Harren cleaned a museum.
“I put down the mop and studied the paintings,” he remembers. “I really got engulfed in them. It was like my own private museum.”
Now, Harren admits it’s is a little jarring to realize his own creations fill the space where he works. “I was sitting in the gallery the other day thinking that if I tucked away everything I created, I’d be in an empty room,” he says.
The paintings on display are constantly shifting as the ever-productive Harren churns out his newest pieces. He’s currently working on a series of paintings from the Jersey shore, and his daily reconnoitering around the area provides ripe material for his special brand of art.
“I go and get lost, and I get pleasantly surprised with what I come up with,” he says.
In between work on his paintings, Harren swims a mile a day, a crucial exercise that recharges and readies him to assess past works and prepare for the next. “Swimming is just as important as cleaning my brushes,” he says “It clears my head and blows out the cobwebs so I can go back and look at things realistically.”
A couple years ago, while on the checkout line at Costco in Montgomeryville, Harren had a flash of inspiration. He pulled out his camera and sketchbook to recreate the scene of the customers lining up with their shopping carts. He ended up selling a print of the resulting painting to that very store, and the original hangs in the Costco CEO’s office in Seattle.
Naturally, it’s a major point of pride for Harren, but when asked to name his favorite piece, he demurs: “The older I get, the more excited I am about the next painting to come.”