June 7, 2005
Two artists as different as Monet and Warhol
Open Studios invites public to view the private world of local artists
By Jeanne Carbone Lewis
Art has the ability to inspire. Great art questions the meaning of
life. At the very least, the images draw the viewer into the private
world of the artist.
Anna Coulter and a butterfly piece.
No truer statements could epitomize the talent shown at Open Studios in Campbell recently.
Silicon Valley Open Studios showcases the artists of the area in their own environment.
These passionate men and women create because they feel compelled to
create. They say it’s addictive. The appreciation expressed by patrons
is, of course, an added incentive.
Open Studios, held during three weekends in May, is the largest Bay
Area art exhibit where hundreds of artists open their doors to let
observers peek into their work and the creative process.
Here is a sampling of our local talent, which is as different in
approach as Monet and Warhol but carries the same aspirations to create.
Anna Coulter is an attractive woman in her 40s who has been a creative
force all her life. In her native Switzerland, her father was a musical
conductor and an inspirational influence in her life. She completed
studies at the Art Institute and Teacher’s College in Zurich, which led
to art exhibits in Switzerland, France, Israel, Canada and the United
“In St. Moritz, the attitude is people want original art,” said Coulter
from her bright, airy studio in Campbell, which holds a collection of
her different periods of art and works in progress. “They would never
buy a signed print. They want the real thing.”
Coulter had many art shows in her native land. The Swiss enjoy folk
pieces which still grace a few of her walls; peasant paintings of a
simpler time and place. During another creative period, she created old
master-like pieces that were used for Polo Ralph Lauren store displays.
During Open Studios, Coulter’s proud husband, Michael, escorted art
patrons through their small Campbell home which she decorated
showcasing her newest works. The visit is a wandering through her
latest creative journey. But it is also fun seeing the attention to
detail of wall color and pretty tiles and window treatments that
Coulter has chosen.
|Anna Coulter’s Good Old Days piece.
December Coulter created 50 pieces especially for Open Studios. Vibrant
colors and striking images of flowers, leopards, landscapes and a
seagull announcing, “I’m glad you came my way.”
These hang alongside a proliferation of butterfly images symbolizing
openness, some with words or musical notes. A large sunflower announces
“thanks.” A single “lotus” displayed on a watery leafed bed is perfect
in its simplicity.
Her latest exhibit is called “expressions of rejuvenation.” It
represents her state of being: “uplifting, joyful, happy.” Anna married
Michael a few years ago and with his fervent support, she says that she
is finally living her passion.
Coulter creates her pieces with deep rich acrylics on canvas, some with
dimensional objects, others with gold leaf. In the corner a “peace
angel,” with stars in her eyes watches over everything. The artist
created the piece when two people close to her died. She wished to
communicate the end of this life looking into eternity, a “marriage of
“I want to convey an openness, lightness and gratitude,” said Coulter.
“I try to paint something that uplifts the viewer’s spirits: A simple
appreciation of life and spirituality. And something the viewer would
like to look at every day.”
Although no neophyte to exhibits, this is the first time Coulter
exhibited with Open Studios and she seemed to enjoy sharing her piece
of the world.
A native of Frostburg, Md., Harden found creating images at age 4 to be
“comfortable and natural.” That began his journey into the mystery of
|Larry Harden at his studio in Campbell. Photos by Jeanne Carbone Lewis
taught high school for nine years in Washington D.C. before receiving
his MFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore. It
was there he was introduced to his mentor, Edward Dugmore, a noted
second-generation abstract expressionist from New York.
Abstract expressionism is a form of art in which the artist expresses
himself purely through the use of form and color. It is
non-representational—there are no concrete objects represented. Many
consider it to be the first American artistic movement of worldwide
Harden’s oils are lavishly rendered forms exploring the effect of pure
color on canvas, the thickness of paint begging to be touched, marks
etched from his subconscious wanderings.
“It’s a Zen thing,” said the tall, intense Harden from his
garage-converted studio at his Campbell home. “It’s the moment. I can
be working on art wherever.”
Prolific, Harden’s art includes multitudes of photographs and drawings.
The colored images are unexpected glimpses of surreal moments recorded
on film causing one to reflect on the isolated perfection viewed
through Harden’s eyes.
|Larry Harden’s easel looks like a piece of art. Photos by Jeanne Carbone Lewis
and still life’s of California, Colorado, unnoticed views of Campbell
and a wild romp through life’s unexpected are all caught on film. There
is something for everyone in Harden’s collection.
Harden calls his drawings “streams of consciousness.” Many are nudes
from an intimate muse that provokes lyrical conceptual lines. Others
suggest animals and architecture. All are surreal. Columns of
sketchbooks embellish his studio.
“Your eye changes with each discipline,” said Harden about his triptych
genre. “I draw every morning and have a camera with me always, but I
only paint in binges.”
Harden’s easel is a mass of Pollock-like art. A child visitor gazes at
his oils and remarks “there is one painting here I don’t understand”
referring to his work area. Harden is enchanted by the remark.
A second time exhibitor with Open Studios, Harden has shown his work
extensively on the East Coast at Addison-Ripley Gallery and Corcoran
Gallery of Art among others. He relocated in 1991 to the San Francisco
area where he continued to paint, draw and photograph.
“I love California,” said Harden. “It has flowers in winter. You’re a
half hour from the coast. It’s quieter and there’s less crime, it’s
really user friendly. California conforms to you. Everything is more
When Harden isn’t creating, he can be found sipping java at Orchard
Valley Coffee in Campbell or teaching fine art at Bellarmine College
Anna Coulter may be reached at (408) 866-4658, e-mail email@example.com or www.annacoulter.com. Larry Harden may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.larryharden.com.
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