Icon Magazine November 2020
the Artist Magazine January 2017
NEW HOPE GAZETTE
New Hope,PennsylvaniaArtist in focus
By Doris Brandes
"PAINTING IS WHAT GLENN HARREN DOES AND WANTS TO DO"
Since 1982, Glenn Harren has been exhibiting his paintings in Bucks Countyand the Philadelphia area. He is a native son.Though Glenn was born in New York City, when he was 11 his familymoved to Doylestown, where he attended local schools, including CentralBucks and Central Bucks East.At the age of five he had already decided that he wanted to be an artist.This was not the first choice of his parnets, but they respected his feelingsand during high school he studied painting during the summer with William Smith,late of Pineville, and in Provincetown with Henry Hensche.Always handy and willing to work, Glenn learned how to do generalcarpentry working for local builders, skills that would prove useful later on.By 1977 he was taking evening courses at the Pennsylvania Academy ofthe Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he was encouraged by his teacher,Arthur DeCosta, to become a fulltime student at PAFA.DeCosta obviously saw more than a little talent and ability in Harren.Glenn moved into town and registered for the four year certificate course.He sometimes tended bar and cleaned the venerable old Academygalleries to support himself.It was a great thrill, he remembers, to "have those wonderful galleries fullof grand old paintings to myself. "He also helped with hanging shows,the knowledge of which would also be useful much later.He has been an exhibit preparator and art mover for the Michener Art Museumfor almost 10 years. He proudly recalls recalls moving that fine Garber mural,taking it down from the college where it was in storage. It gave him pleasureto be a part of the installation of that remarkable piece for the Michener Art Museum." But painting is what I do," says Glenn Harren. "I want to paint all thetime. It is the journey, not the destination. "Currently he works in studiospace in Buckingham, where he also lives, but is searching for a largerstudio where he can work with greater ease. "I'm sure I'll find somethingsoon and maybe even better," he remarks, citing what he calls, "the gift of the adversity."Having great determination and an ability to make to make things work for him,he is certain to find the right place soon.At the most recent Artsbridge juried show at Prallsville Mills, Glenn Harrenwas awarded first prize for his large painting, "Eggs Whites in Lambertville."It was truly of local inspiration, depicting the cook at Sneddon's Coffee Shop in Lambertvilleat work at the kitchen stove.Glenn works on location as much as possibleand for this one he did some thumbnail sketches and took some referencephotos. The final work was done in his studio.He paints with oil on linen, mostly using premade stretchers, but he makeshis own frames."Many collectors prefer to have the works reframed orsometimes not framed at all, " notes Harren.There have been many awards for Glenn Daniel Harren (as he chooses tobe known now): at Philips Mill, the Tinicum Arts Show, the Fellowship of PAFA,the Monmouth Museum, Woodmere Museum, Cheltenham Art Center andthe Wallingford Community Art Center.His solo exhibitions have included the Wai's Gallery and Yaffa in New York,Palmyra Art Gallery, Widener University, Views Gallery in Philadelphia andlocally at Stover Mill, Windy Bush and the Hicks Gallery at Bucks CountyCommunity College.His group exhibitions are literally "too numerous to mention" in this space,but he has a following among art consultants for much of his work, withmany pieces having been sold to major corporate collectors. Last Marchhe exhibited in the East Village in New York and next November he willhave a solo show at Muhlenberg College.Glenn has taught at Solebury School, at the PAFA (Saturday classes forhigh school students) and at the Baum School of Art in Allentown.He loves doing figure work and appreciates the connection with thepeople when doing portraits, and there is no doubt he is having successwith landscapes. Between painting, teaching, preparator jobs andMasterpiece Express (Harren the art mover), he is a very busy painter.
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
THE DAILY INTELLIGENCER
THE DAILY INTELLIGENCERDoylestown,PennsylvaniaBy Steve Wartenberg
"BLENDING LIFE AND COLOR ON A CANVAS"
When Glenn Daniel Harren was young,he didn't collect baseball cards or GI Joes.He collected colors.He filled a drawer with lollipops and pieces of paper,a veritable rainbow of colors.Today,Harren,46 is still collecting colors.Only now,the Holicong artist puts his colors on canvas as he createslarge portraits and landscapes that are starting to attract attention.He currently has a painting in the Cheltenham Art Center's 57th AnnualExhibition (which runs through March 19th);at the most recent Phillip's MillArt Exhibition,he won the Stoner Family Award.In 1994,Harren was awarded a fellowship by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.The artist describes himself as a cross between the well-known John Singer Sargent and the not so well-known Alice Neel.While he is more a figural than impressionistic painter,like theimpressionists,Harren has found an interesting way to use colors,combining bold greens,blues and purples to create mood andatmosphere in both landscapes and environmental portraits that havea story-like quality about them." I mix my colors on the canvas instead of on the palette."he said,addingthat the colors seem to take on a life of their own." I look for the happy,pleasent surprizes"is how he described the colors thatappear on his canvas.Harren finds his art in the fields and farms of Bucks County and also ineveryday life.He's painted a woman at the Laundromat and is working ona portrait of a man cooking eggs at a diner in Lambertville,NJ." I seek the extraordinary aspects of everyday life,"he said."whether inthe color of a landscape or the simple dignity of the human form."Harren knew from an early age he wanted to be an artist." When I was 8 or 9, I knew I wanted to go to ethier the PennsylvaniaAcademy of the Fine Arts or the Arts Student League in New York andsent away for brochures."he said.Why art?" I was an anonymous kid.But,when I drew,it was like wow! I got all thisattention.I put two and two together and figured out if I drew,I was visibleand if I didn't I was anonymous."Harren took art classes at Central Bucks East (he graduated in 1971)and also studied with famous Bucks County artist William Smith,who diedin 1989." He had this vast library of books,he was well traveled,he was an artist,"Harren said." He was what I wanted to be."Smith told Harren to seek as much knowledge as he could-about art andlife-on his own and then,when he was ready,finish up his education atplace such as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.Taking Smith's advice,Harren went on a journey of self-discovery.While heworked at his art,he also worked as a carpenter.built swimmingpools,framed houses,worked as a cook and even drove a taxi.Finally,it was time for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.Harren began with a night course,which was taught by ArthurDeCosta,who told he should be attending full time." That was just what I needed to hear," Harren said.He was awarded a scholarship but still needed to work and found a job asjanitor of the academy's museum." It wasn't a bad job,"he said."I could put down my mop and stare at thepaintings."Harren completed his studies at the academy in 1981.To help support himself,he runs Masterpiece Express,a fine art transportation company.He has moved paintings and hung shows for several local museums andonce took a van full of Smith's paintings to an exhibit at the NationalAcademy of Design in New York.In the end,Harren seems to have followed in his mentor's footstep'sLike Smith,he's a painter." I'm living a dream,doing what I want to be doing,"he said.
Martin Art Gallery at Muhlenberg College
"Glenn Daniel Harren: Bucks County Painter"
By Lori Verderame, Ph.D
Glenn Harren often quotes history's great artists. Quite unprovoked,he willshare an appropriate quip from John Singer Sargent or recount a storyonce told by Edward Hopper. While Harren's unique abilityto immediately recall art's famous quotes can humble even themost committed art historian,they are a subtle expression of his lovefor fine art and for it's rich history. When asked about his own life as apainter, Harren responds, that despite the obstacles," I'm living the dream"A memorable comment that no doubt will inspire future artists as much as hissubtly expressive figures and color-saturated landscapes.Painting seems to come as easily to Harren as retelling those famous storiesIn his work, content is one with color and composition. He offers masterfulbrushwork,adept compositional decisions, and dynamic use of color,light,and form with energy and joy. In his quietly artistic manner, he urges theviewer to look,examine,and finally to look again.Harren's figures reference artist Alice Neel's direct attention to human formand her unique ability to capture expression. Harren's paintings also reflecthis interest in the American scene paintings of Edward Hopper. But most ofall,his art demonstrates his sheer love of painting. Nearly a century ago,Matisse explained in his essay"Notes of a Painter" that fine art derives fromthe heart,from the soul, and from the emotional reserves of the artist.Harren's artwork is a potent blending of that emotional energy and technicalmastery of his medium.
Bucks Living Magazine
By Brenda Lange
When visiting the Lambertville gallery of painter Glenn Harren, one’s first thought may be large—not in relation to the building, but to the canvases that fill it. And if painting is his means of communicating, as he calls it, then Harren has more to say than most.Much of his work is done on a very large scale: 6’ x 6’ paintings are commonplace. This vastness is appropriate, and you might say that the Holicong, PA, painter—an “overnight sensation” who has worked for decades to receive the recognition he deserves—likes to depict lives lived large.Harren is not a portraitist; rather he likes to paint people in their everyday lives. So whether the canvas is filled with tiny tykes playing soccer or waves lapping at female bathers on a sandy shore or a female clerk making coffee at Wawa, it is filled with images of life.“I paint my world,” he says simply.Keen observer Perhaps that is part of the appeal of a Harren painting. He’s an avid observer. He sees beauty in the everyday, often mundane, goings-on of the people around him. Their actions speak to him, and he translates that into renderings that, in turn, speak to those who see them.One of his most recent exhibitions included a painting of Doylestown Hospital nurses at a nursing station as they changed shifts. Another popular piece depicts a clerk at the former Kenny’s in Doylestown.But it’s not only people that attract Harren’s attention. The Bucks County native loves to paint the landscapes around him from the sun-dappled Delaware River to puffy pink-tinged clouds at sunset. Last winter’s record-breaking snowfalls provided fodder for a series of smaller works he’s completing now.Judicious color choices lean toward the bright and invigorating, qualities that drive his work. “My painting is not an intellectual process, but rather an emotional response from what I see,” he says. “My primary purpose is the balance and movement of the large shapes and colors. I’m more concerned with those than I am with detail. That comes in later. I like to say as much as possible with few brushstrokes.”A lifelong pursuit Harren, who was born in New York City in 1952, has had a lifelong love affair with art. He completed his course of study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1981, and has taken part in dozens of exhibitions and shows since then. He’s won prestigious awards, including a fellowship from PAFA, and his work hangs in numerous corporate and private collections.He opened his gallery on July 4, 2008, proclaiming a personal day of independence for his work. Why Lambertville? “Lots of people come here to look for art, so it’s a perfect place for a gallery,” he explains. He often brings “resource materials” with him into his studio in Holicong. “I’ll bring sketches and photos into the studio with me, but they fall by the wayside as I respond to the painting as it takes shape,” he says. “I just bear witness to the painting. As I put down the colors, the painting emerges, and I follow its lead.”Harren also takes commissions, one of the most famous being a line-up of customers at Costco, commissioned by the company’s president.He approaches each painting as a representation of a moment in time, and strives to maintain the integrity of each one of them, whether that depicts a waitress serving coffee, three friends barbecuing on matching grills or almost any other slice-of-life imaginable.
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.”