Abstract painting

The duo exhibition shows Harmons’ different approaches to abstract painting

Two painters, a husband and a wife, exhibit different explorations of the medium in “Painterly Aesthetics,” now at the Regier Art Gallery in Bethel, through April 7.

There will be a reception for the artists and the exhibition on its closing day, Thursday, April 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the gallery of the Luyken Fine Arts Center.

Susan Harmon and David Harmon “both approach painting in a non-objective way,” said David Long, professor of visual art and design at Bethel.

“In this I would call them abstract painters with a more academic approach to color, composition and movement.

“David is more interested in constructing his surfaces with paint and color and the resulting movement.

“Susan is less so. Combining paints on fabric is a whole different tradition.

“So ‘Painterly Aesthetics’ is really about a more formalistic approach to painting than you would see in typical subject/object-based compositions.”

David Harmon’s work presented at the Regier Gallery focuses on a series of tondiplural of the Renaissance term tondoa circular work of a type that artists have been creating since ancient Greece.

“My recent paintings illustrate a process of wrapping or layering impasto acrylic paint on various oval and round formats,” Harmon said in an artist statement.

“A large palette knife allows me to layer thick layers of impasto by interweaving and overlapping strips of paint. …Each painting is an adventure in the direct expression of bands of color composed in a swirling direction similar to a spiral or whirlwind found in celestial and terrestrial nature.

Of her somewhat “mixed” paintings, Susan Harmon says, “My work is a visual collection of emotion. … The raging splatters of gestural strokes of paint on fabric with hand-sewn edging and backing, part of the release of angst as in Abstract Expressionism, are evident in my own work.

“Combined with a coat of textured paint and sometimes added materials of sand, string, or discarded designs, [this leads] to the making of expressive marks in meaningful contexts, evident in this body of art. …

“My works are inspired by books, especially stories of women who have experienced trauma and their journey to healing, as well as, more recently, stories from the island of Saipan. [Northern Marianas]where I lived and taught before the pandemic.

David Harmon was born in St. Louis and realized he wanted to be a painter when he saw the Vincent van Gogh traveling exhibit at the St. Louis City Museum of Art, where he also spent hours study the museum’s rich collection of German Expressionists.

Harmon holds an MFA in painting from Penn State and a BFA in painting from Webster University, St. Louis, and completed doctoral courses in visual studies at Texas Tech University, Lubbock.

He has exhibited his work for over 30 years in international and national exhibition venues that include museums, galleries and community art centers.

He taught at Northern Marianas College; Howard Payne University, Brownwood, Texas; Central Texas College in Killeen; the University of Arizona; the State University of New York; the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg; Indiana University; Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; Bethel College, Mishawaka, Indiana; and Savannah (Ga.) College of Art and Design; and has organized numerous exhibitions at several of them.

Susan Harmon was born and raised in Chicago.

She holds a BFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a second BFA in graphic design from the University of Illinois.

She earned an MFA from Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, and did doctoral work in studio art at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and, on scholarship, at the Julia and David White Art Residency in Costa Rica.

Harmon was recently commissioned to complete five murals for the city of San Marcos, Texas, 60 feet long and 20 high. She has exhibited nationally and internationally.

She teaches studio art classes at the Fort Hood and Marble Falls campuses of Central Texas College.

Susan and David Harmon are based in Austin, Texas where they live with their Siberian Husky. They have been married for 37 years and are parents to four boys.

The public is invited to the Harmons reception on April 7.

Regier Gallery’s regular hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Recognized for its academic excellence, Bethel ranks 15th in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #31 in US News and World Report, Best Regional Colleges in the Midwest, both for 2021-22. Bethel was the only college or university in Kansas selected for the 2021 American Association of Colleges & Universities Institute on Truthfulness, Racial Healing and Transformation, and was named the TRHT Campus Center. For more information see www.bethelks.edu