Release Date: April 26, 2011
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo will present an exhibition of paintings by Willard "Will" Russell Harris (1933-2008), a 30-year faculty member of the UB Department of Art, May 14 to Aug. 7 in the Anderson Gallery, One Martha Jackson Place, Buffalo.
"Will Harris: From Java to Buffalo" will open with a public reception on May 14 from 7-9 p.m. Gallery hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1-5 p.m.
The exhibition will include early conceptual, non-objective paintings by Harris -- paintings infused with cubist compositional elements -- as well as later work.
In sum, it will feature acrylics, watercolors and oils painted over the course of almost three decades, which express the Western New York landscape around Java Lake south of East Aurora, aspects of the region's rolling farmland and Buffalo's waterfront.
Harris's cubistic work was influenced by his experiences as a glider pilot. It led him to fracture the picture plane to produce a kaleidoscopic image, which he simultaneously presented with straight-on views of his subject.
Curator Sandra Firman says his realistic mode, which he turned to after a brief foray into Abstract Expressionism in the late 1950s, included such motifs as round-shaped canvases that accommodated and enhanced his depictions of coins and subway tokens.
She says, "The Java paintings (those whose subject matter is taken from the area around his home in rural Java, N.Y.) often confuse domestic interiors with the landscape by representing both through a series of refracting window-like panes, producing a cubist sensation of a fluctuating foreground and background where interior and exterior spaces combine.
"When painting on location," Firmin says, "Harris was a keen observer of natural light and the changing seasons, particularly fall with its panoply of emerald greens, rust tones and flaming reds, which saturate his works on paper with exuberant color."
Harris was born in Bloomington, Ind., and received his BFA from the John Heron Art School in Indianapolis and his MFA from the Newcomb Art School, Tulane University. He began teaching at UB in 1965, chaired the Department of Art during part of his tenure, and retired from the university in 1998.
During his lifetime, Harris's work was exhibited at major local venues and in museums and galleries throughout the country and is included in many private and corporate collections.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.