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Biscayne Boulevard Times
Life After Art Basel: Can It Get Any Better?
January 2004
Pgs. 16-17
Author: Xavier Griffin
Read this article online at biscayneboulevard.com
 
 

Art Basel saw the who's-who of the art world strut their stuff for all to see. Rows of Rolls, bunches of Bentleys, even the elusive Maybach made an appearance‹(the unexpected highlight of my week - getting a ride in this new super-smooth-stealthy-soft-hi-tech-quick-and-sophisticated $400,000 automotive-masterpiece!).

From Picasso, Pollock, and Picabia paintings hidden in the back rooms, to Dali, Dubuffet, and Damien Hirst works beneath the bright lights of the main floor, the high rollers brought the world's cultural eye squarely to rest, like a hurricane, on Miami.

Most came and left like ghosts in the night, only assuring us they'll haunt this way again (next year and every year thereafter for generations to come). As a Miami native, I was more interested in who stuck around‹the people that were here to check out our scene, not just let us bask in the glory of theirs.

On Thursday, January 8, the AJ Japour Gallery will present "Urban Art with a View 3," featuring such (art world) household names as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. But what caught my attention is a New York City artist who seems to be finding a second home right here in the sub-tropics.

David Greg Harth is only 28, and a self-admittedly quiet individual, but the impact of his art has already been felt around the world and featured in the New York Times and on CNN. After 9/11 he stamped over a quarter million US dollars with the statement, "I AM NOT TERRORIZED," a message that resonated with his fellow New Yorkers, Americans and freedom-loving people across the globe. At the Chelsea Hotel on Washington Ave., which hosted "OPEN," a group show by the Szilage Gallery (St. Peterburg, FL), I enjoyed too many late night beverages as Harth opened my eyes to his work, to his world and to what it was like to see the Twin Towers through your studio window Š no more.

For "Urban Art with a View 3," Harth will be executing his latest 'Wall Drawing' and 'Thinkways', works that have ranged in scale from 3" x 3" to one covering over 450 sq. ft. of wall space. As I viewed the work myself, it drew me in, a conceptual road map to an artist's mind. Since Harth is reticent to speak about his work in public, I turned to several people who know his work intimately to get inside his art, his mind, his vision.

Lance S. Longwell, a young art collector in New York City, recently decided to add another of Harth's work to his collection. Longwell, like many serious collectors, takes his time, often studying an artist's work for many years before making a purchase. Therefore, he knows a great deal about this series.

"Harth's been working on such drawings all his life," says Longwell, "but started executing actual 'Thinkways' drawings in the early 1990's. In spring of 2001, he exhibited large scale 'Wall Drawings' and 'Thinkways' studies at Parsons Gallery in New York City. 'Thinkways' can take as short as 20 minutes and as long as years to complete. At the Parsons Gallery exhibit, where there were multiple 'Wall Drawings,' the largest was about 14 feet high by 30 feet wide. That work took him about 12 hours, non-stop. I heard he was listening to Lionel Hampton as he was drawing. I'll leave it to you to make that connection."

Longwell went on to note that "as Harth draws these ways, he thinks. Hence, 'Thinkways.' Like most artists, he's been drawing his whole life, and his drawings have become more refined, much to the same degree as his explorations of his own mind as he executes them."

Tiffani Szilage, of the Szilage Gallery, has represented David Greg Harth since 1997 and has had the unique opportunity of watching him grow from a young, aspiring artist to the level of "emerging" artist and now to the brink of becoming an established artist.

Szilage says, "All serious art is exciting to Harth. He works in many mediums, often incorporating new technologies like computers and digital video, and bringing seriousness to his work that few artists his age can even envision, much less execute. But 'Thinkways' and 'Wall Drawing's enable him to be more organic and therefore more complete in his expression. The work flows out of his mind and through his finger tips. It's romantic. It's sensual. Not that new technologies aren't, but working with graphite on paper or on a wall is just so tactile, sensuous, and­you know, it's not a dirty word­"BEAUTIFUL!". He becomes one with the surface, and for those of us who look, and I mean, REALLY LOOK, so do we."

When asked about a message in his work, Szilage responded, "Harth is always focused on a message, but he's also one of those rare artists who understand that work does not need to deliver an immediate message. This isn't television, and it isn't advertising. Works can grow on viewers, including the artist. The important thing is that he gets the work out of his system, and we let the work into our systems. As gallerists, collectors, curators, and art-lovers at all levels, we must help the artist execute it. Then step back, take a look, and the artist and the viewers will learn its meaning through discovery and consistent observation. There just is no replacement for looking‹not glancing, but looking deeply­until you actually see the work."

As I tilled this fertile artistic ground for deeper revelations, I was stunned to learn of Harth's personal experience with neurological mysteries, a subject I felt might have some bearing on the work. Twice in his life, Harth has been in an extended coma, each time with uncertain prognoses. Although he was understandably reserved about delving too deeply into these ultimately extremely personal experiences, I could easily see the relationship. Some say all art is a self-portrait of the artist who created the work of art and I'm sure such an event in one's life must be an influence in-and-of itself.

As for his future, being in "Urban Art with a View 3" (an invite-only event) certainly can't hurt. While Harth already has an international base of collectors and arts professionals that will be knocking on the door of the AJ Japour Gallery, Harth hopes to find some serious acceptance and support from the minders and keepers of Miami culture.

In speaking with Dr. Anthony J. Japour, I found out that a precious few of Harth's works are available ($100 - $10,000). Dr. Japour, who works with artists ranging from the aspiring to the established and with collectors at all levels, said, "I doubt the word "emerging" will be attached to Harth's work for much longer. 'Urban Art with a View 3' is intended to span the full scale of recognition. Basquiat and Haring are already known. Steven Logan and Alex Steneck are only just starting out. Harth, Irene Sperber, and Alberto Senior are at various points in the middle. They are all worth looking at and I hope people will take the time to make an appointment and come and see all the work. If I didn't think it was worth your time to look at it, I wouldn't show it."

For more information on David Greg Harth, you can find his web site at www.davidgregharth.com and more of his work at the Szilage Gallery web site at www.szilage.com. For more information on "Urban Art with a View 3" and other AJ Japour Gallery events, you can find their web site at www.ajjapourgallery.com.