October 13, 2005          The Community Newspaper of Evergreen Valley/ Silvercreek Valley since 1982

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
Staff Writer

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

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 States.

“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.

Since 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 death.”

“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.

Larry Harden
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 artistic language.

Larry Harden at his studio in Campbell. Photos by Jeanne Carbone Lewis

He 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 importance.

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

Landscapes 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 inclusive.”

When Harden isn’t creating, he can be found sipping java at Orchard Valley Coffee in Campbell or teaching fine art at Bellarmine College Preparatory.

Anna Coulter may be reached at (408) 866-4658, e-mail coulteranna@aol.com or www.annacoulter.com. Larry Harden may be reached at larry@larryharden.com or www.larryharden.com.

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See also Campbell Reporter 5/18/05