Tuesday, October 19, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 33

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on August 12th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 24 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 24

Painter and printmaker Holli Harmon joins the Wildling Museum's webinar series with Califia and Beyond


Strong female figures are integral to the works of portrait and landscape artist Holli Harmon, whose latest muse is a mythical warrior queen, Califia, aka “the Spirit of California.”

“Somehow, Califia was in my subconscious,” the local painter told the Sun, while discussing her art featured in a new exhibition, the Califia Series, at Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara (through Monday, Sept. 21).

Night at the museum
To find out more about the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature and its next Zoom presentation, featuring special guest speaker Holli Harmon, visit wildlingmuseum.org. Check out holliharmon.com for more info on the local painter.

Local painter and printmaker Holli Harmon (pictured) will host an upcoming Zoom webinar, Califia and Beyond, on Wednesday, Aug. 19, presented by the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature.

While masks are required and a capacity limit is enforced at the gallery, fans of Harmon’s work can also take advantage of virtual showcases from the comfort of their own homes. Aside from visiting her own online gallery (holliharmon.com), other opportunities to learn about Harmon’s work include an upcoming Zoom webinar, Califia and Beyond, hosted by the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature in Solvang (Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 4 p.m.).

The first 100 people to register for the meeting will be treated to a free, in-depth exploration of Harmon’s artistic process, personal techniques, and inspirations.

“My work revolves around human experiences that are connection points between different cultures and generations set in iconic California imagery,” Harmon said about the presentation. “I will be explaining who Califia is, how she became my muse, what makes California such a unique state, and I will share my painting and printmaking processes. There is a lot to unpack.”

“This image of my Califia muse manifests the idea that we are at peace with the natural world, co-existing with planet Earth,” Holli Harmon said in the artist statement for her oil painting, Pacific Disposition.

With a master’s degree from San Diego State University, Harmon is also an alumna of Santa Barbara City College where she completed life drawing, printmaking, and other fine art courses. Over the years, Harmon’s artworks have been showcased by the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, and other local venues.

Harmon previously exhibited at the Wildling Museum in 2018 as part of The River’s Journey, a collaborative multimedia show celebrating the beauty of the Santa Ynez River. While her more recent works were inspired by a specific mythological character, Harmon personified the river itself in her Journey paintings, she explained.

“The Santa Ynez River had become a spirit and took shape as a female figure in my paintings,” said Harmon, one of six local artists who contributed paintings to the group exhibit, from small gouache pieces to larger oil works.

“My work revolves around human experiences that are connection points between different cultures and generations set in iconic California imagery,” Holli Harmon told the Sun.

While her latest Sullivan Goss exhibit premiered in July, Harmon said she has probably spent more time gardening than painting during the course of quarantine.

“I am not creating a lot of work at the moment. I think most artists need a fallow period,” Harmon said. “The quarantine has allowed me lots of time to work in my garden, and my mind is plotting and thinking about what to do next.

“I have some new ideas I want to explore. Those seeds are germinating,” she added. “In a way, the isolation has been a good thing for me, at least that is the sunny side of the experience.”

Over the years, Holli Harmon’s artworks have also been showcased by the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, including in 2016 during her exhibit, Revelations: Culture and the Human Landscape of the Central Coast.

While many museums and galleries remain closed due to COVID-19 related health and safety concerns, Harmon recommends that any aspiring artist should frequent as many art venues as possible, when safe to do so.

“You will learn more about yourself while looking at other creations,” said Harmon, who described art observation as “the key ingredient to building an art practice.”

Harmon described the coronavirus crisis as an “epic shift in reality,” but finds optimism and comfort in the fact that artists can continue to share their works.

“You can find peace through many artistic endeavors. I am trying to balance what I take in from the news with other things that promote peace and connection,” Harmon said. “When this pandemic was just starting to unfold, I think of news clips from Italy showing opera singers standing on their balconies while reaching out to their neighbors with song.” 

Reach out to Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood through song at cwiseblood@santamariasun.com.

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