The art of Ellen Grim Harter in the Baum tradition
A reception for “It’s All About Color,” more than 30 colorful works by Ellen Grim Harter on exhibit through July 6 in the David E. Rodale and Rodale Family Galleries, will be held at 6-8 p.m. June 21, at The Baum School of Art, Allentown, as part of Allentown’s Third Thursday series.
As one of nine grandchildren of Walter Emerson Baum, who founded The Baum School of Art and was a founder of the Allentown Art Museum, Harter often watched the artist at work on his sketches and paintings.
“We all posed for him,” says Harter, who was born Dec. 1, 1935, a child of Baum’s daughter Marian.
Harter developed an interest in art history and painting in high school. Baum helped prepare her for college art classes during the summer of 1956. She still uses the easel her grandfather retrieved from a barn that year.
Having been inspired by her grandfather’s impressionistic landscapes and later trained by Yale University’s renowned color theorist, Josef Albers, Harter developed a sophisticated eye for color and space relationships. She received a BFA and MFA from the Yale University School of Art.
Harter found inspiration while traveling with her husband Michael to Florence, Rome, and France, including a trip to Monet’s studio and the gardens at Giverny. Her painting of a red-roofed structure bridging a waterway, “Florence from the Arno River” (oil on canvas, 16 in. x 20 in.), is from a photo her husband took from the tour bus they were riding on. They have been married for 57 years.
From poppy fields in Europe to lilies in her brother’s fish pond, and hydrangea blossoms in her own yard, Harter’s landscapes glow with vivid colors, yet the underpainting hues push through the layers to the surface as well. This treatment also dominates her still-life subjects of Asian pears and vibrant flower arrangements that burst out of glass and ceramic vases.
Like her grandfather before her, Harter turned to family for subjects to paint. Her daughter stands in the snow while holding the family cat in “Holly and Suntan” (oil on canvas, 30 in. x 24 in.). “Peter and Suntan” (oil on canvas, 20 in. x 24 in.) is of her young son playing in the snow with their white and tan kitten.
“As I continue to paint today I try to make each painting a color study. Through the use of color value, I strive for living quality, weight, density, motion and space balance. I try to show the moment that form appears and is shaped by color,” is part of Bethlehem-based artist’s statement.
The exhibit is sponsored by Harter’s brothers, J. Lawrence Grim, Jr. and John Grim and their families.
The Baum School of Art, 510 W. Linden streets, Allentown. Gallery hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, Closed Saturday and Sunday. baumschool.org; 610-433-0032