Artist Profile: Robin Harris

That’s One Tough Cookie acrylic on canvas, 20" x 16", by Robin Harris
Robin Harris at work in her
Charlottesville, Virginia studio

It’s about food, but it’s not about food. It is really about intensity: The color. The commanding compositions. The demanding scrutiny of the ordinary. The pure energy. And the intense examination of motion—the flicker of light in an instant of being.

Robin Harris paints curiosities. All of that intensity comes to be vested not only in motion, but the riddles and fun twists (pun twists?) that keep it alive and more than an exercise in paint proficiency. And there is proficiency to spare.

In works such as “That’s Enough You Can Schnapp Now” you marvel at the moment of splash and jump back a little. And then smile.

With “Who Stole The Cookie” you know for whom the cookie crumbles and reach out to steady it.  Or, with “Mama’s Little Baby Loves Rhubarb Pie,” you see living stillness, but you know it shimmies in the light and shadows.

To Robin, it is all about engagement. She wants you to finish the motion through your own given experiences. These are meant to be fun. Enjoy them. Lately she has been exploring antique silverware. She treasures the designs and flourishes—the special little touches you hardly see anymore.  She delights in now obscure gadgets, like sardine forks. (Have one?) She’s not even sure what some of those doohickeys do.

Robin puts photos together—including some of her own—and creates a digital image. From that she paints in acrylics on canvas.

Originally from New Jersey, Robin majored in art at UMD. She had her own graphic design studio and did work for various agencies like the State Dept. and EPA. She now paints full time. She lives in Charlottesville and is a member of the Touchstone Gallery and shows often in the DC area.

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art

The paintings of Robin Harris are wonderfully light and you smile. But not all art is fun. Some artists grapple with the dark side of life: war, tragedy, environmental degradation and even the torments of Hell.  Political art—usually official art—has long been common but strictly sanctioned by the king, pharaoh or pope.

On the flipside of creation is the destruction of art. It is usually done for dogmatic or simply mind control reasons. In transitional Egyptian dynasties, images of the last pharaoh and his gods would just disappear.  China’s Mao was greatly offended by centuries of  “pre-revolutionary” paintings and carvings. They had to go. And more recently, we saw the destruction of ancient religious artifacts in the Middle East. Wrong religion. None of this was about the quality of the art—because it was all of the highest quality—masterpieces.

The reasons are easily rationalized by the doers. Aesthetic qualities are rarely considered when history is to be erased. For me, the art is more important than the topic depicted and its moral inferences—but then I am an artist. Also, I have never been one to prostate myself before the arbiters of moral or aesthetic merit.

It’s going on now. Art works, especially of those individuals deemed evil, annoying or even irrelevant are being ripped, smashed and otherwise destroyed. Dare I object? These are artworks…but no matter, the subjects are declared vile by someone so there is no public debate and certainly no evaluations by artists. In fact, no objection seems to be expressed to those self-appointed avengers of all things. After the visual arts will come music, literature, theater, film, and of course, the burning of the books. Once this juggernaut gets rolling, there is no stopping it.

At the Galleries

Jim Earl
Foundry Gallery
2118 – 8th St, N.W.
—August 30

This two-month solo exhibit, “Now and Then: Fifty Years of Prints,” can be seen on the gallery website. The gallery itself may be open—the information will be on the site. Jim Earl’s etchings and silkscreens range from everyday objects to the juxtapositions of the seemingly mundane. His work varies from loose interpretations to more detailed renderings and often analogizes the near and far, the mundane and the mythic. An MIT-trained physicist, his balloon-borne experiments led to the discovery of cosmic-ray electrons. He also the earned a BFA from University of Maryland. This show is a retrospective of his work.

Hill Center
921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
—September 12

This is the annual Regional Juried Exhibition. The Hill Center Gallery may not be open in July, but a wonderful work from each artist can be seen at:

Touchstone Gallery  Online Exhibit
901 New York Ave NW
This is the big “Member Group Exhibition” of about 40 artists, including Robin Harris (See Artist Profile).

“Chairs” Online Exhibit
Capitol Hill Art League
545 7th St, SE
Through July

CHAL has set up monthly theme challenges for their members/artists. July’s theme is CHAIRS. They have received many submissions with a range of interpretations, so check them out.