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Lifesyle Magazine
Norristown, Pennsylvania

January 2007

By Lori Donovan

Finding the Beauty in the Everyday

Washing dishes, short-order cooking, bartending and driving a taxi cab are just a few ways that artist Glenn Harren earned a living before painting became his full-time career. So perhaps it’s no surprise to find that Harren’s work presents working people so perfectly—the clerk behind a candy counter, a Wawa employee refreshing coffee pots, patient shoppers in a long line at Costco. In every piece, Harren finds “the dignity of the human figure.”
“ For me it’s about focusing on what’s beautiful and making it even more beautiful,” says Harren.
Harren’s drive to become an artist began at an early age. Inspired by his mother—also a painter—he took to drawing quickly. During his teen years, he studied privately at local studios and spent Saturday afternoons taking tutelage from William A. Smith, whose own portraits can be found in the National Portrait Gallery and on United States postage stamps.
Harren entered the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1978, where he took a night job cleaning the schools museum—one of the many occupations that influenced his work.
“ I’d put down the mop, and would have the whole collection to myself,” he says. “Talk about inspiring.”
Harren went on to spend 13 years in the art transportation business; moving art for museums and galleries. Although he said it could be frustrating working in a field that was less than creative, he gained access to corporate consultants, enabling him to show his work to influential people.
“ I got burned out moving other people’s art,” says Harren. “Now, I’m just moving my own.”This, and his many other jobs, have served ignite his passion for painting, and his unconventional subject matter.
“ I had one teacher, when I was young, who told me that you had to cover a square mile of canvas before you think of keeping one,” he says.
And though he thought this was a joke or metaphor, Harren eventually realized that time, and many discarded canvases, would make him the artist he has become.
“ I took it 50 yards at a time,” he said, laughing. “And I’ve had some bonfires in my day. Today I keep more than I burn.”
Now, a number of occupations later, Harren has dedicated his life to his art.
“ Children seem to love my work,” he says. “That’s a real compliment. They don’t have a critical mind.”
It’s not just children who enjoy Harren’s work. A print of piece featuring the Costco checkout line hangs at the Costco store in Montgomeryville, and the company’s CEO liked the piece so much, the original now hangs in his office at the corporate headquarters in Seattle. He has also earned awards and accolades for his artwork, and his paintings have been displayed in exhibits across the northeast.
When asked about his greatest success, Harren laughs.
“ I’m excited about the paintings that are in me 20 years from now,” he says. “It’s like having a big family. They’re all your favorites.”
Seven of Harren’s landscape paintings are now on display at the Radclyffe Gallery in New Hope. His work can also be seen at Starbucks in Newtown and, of course, at Costco in Montgomeryville