March 17, 2012 in Washington Voices

Opening minds through art

Couple have been exploring art together since they met
 
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

In between painting, Chuck and Alice Harmon like to play a game of Scrabble. Chuck began painting after he retired from the financial services business, while Alice has always made art.
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Art quote

of the week

“Everything that is new or uncommon raises a pleasure in the imagination, because it fills the soul with an agreeable surprise, gratifies its curiosity, and gives it an idea of which it was not before possessed.”

Joseph Addison (1672-1719), writer and politician

On the web

avenuewestgallery.org/ harmon.html

Artists Alice and Chuck Harmon met over the phone. She was in Missoula, and he in Spokane. The company she worked for did business with the company he worked for. She liked his voice and he liked hers. Their first date was in Missoula on Valentine’s Day 1996. They married later that year and began a life of creative endeavors.

Alice Harmon has always been creative, though it hasn’t always been easy.

“To me it always meant being a little different, not really fitting into things that other people seem to fit into so naturally,” she said.

“My mother always called me her crazy daughter – lovingly, I’ve always hoped. It’s taken me a lot of years to really understand that normal isn’t always the best thing to be.”

Walking into the home the couple share north of the Spokane River, it is apparent that an unbridled imagination resides within. Murals cover walls. In one area, lush greenery surrounds a visitor, and figures with wine glasses in their hands appear to be navigating the stairs as koi, a cat and other interesting things float nearby. The wine cellar downstairs has a faux finish, tricking a visitor into believing the walls are bricks and the doorway is an arch. In a sunroom where Alice Harmon paints, a life-size cougar made of papier-mâché lounges on a ledge above eye level.

“No matter where I am or what I am doing, there is always a creative thought running through my head,” she said. “It is who I am.”

Her paintings are quirky and colorful; lovely and unique depictions of simple subjects filtered through a fine-tuned imagination.

Chuck Harmon had always enjoyed art and music. “I’ve loved art all my life and when I met Alice, we just gravitated toward art galleries wherever we went. As we traveled more, we got more ideas and, when I retired from the financial services business, I began to dabble with Alice’s oil paints.”

He took some art classes and decided that acrylic paint was more to his liking. He paints fast. The final products become primitive abstracts and altered landscapes.

“It’s nice to know that at my age, almost 70, I can still discover new things. Painting and mingling with artists is new and exciting,” he said.

The couple joined Avenue West Gallery in October, finally sharing their creative spirits with others. They have both sold work. Their work also hangs in the Ameriprise office of Kevin Betz and will soon be in the Green Pig in Wilbur, Wash.

The Harmons believe that art and creativity can change people’s lives, making them more open-minded and accepting of differences or things that may appear atypical.

“So many people have blinders when it comes to art,” Alice Harmon said. “Once the blinders are removed, their range of sight is widened and the possibilities become endless.”


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