Ed Harris paintings at Town Hall: ‘Living & Dying’

An exhibit of new oil paintings by Ed Harris, titled “Living & Dying,” is at Davidson Town Hall through Oct. 18, 2015. (©2015 David Boraks)
An exhibit of new oil paintings by Ed Harris, titled “Living & Dying,” is at Davidson Town Hall through Oct. 18, 2015. (©2015 David Boraks)

Davidson artist Ed Harris spent his career in engineering, real estate management and investment, but art has always been a passion. An exhibition of his oil paintings titled “Living & Dying” is on display through October 18, 2015, in the Atrium Gallery at Davidson Town Hall.

“I’ve been drawing all my life, that’s been a passion. I couldn’t afford to keep that as a living, so I became an engineer and worked as an engineer for a career. When I retired about five or six years ago, I began to paint, and I began working on oils and oils on canvas,” Harris said.

Ed Harris's exhibit explores themes of
Ed Harris’s exhibit explores themes of “Living & Dying.”(©2015 David Boraks)

His efforts to transfer his graphic skills into paint have paid off. The exhibit is filled with fascinating figures, some portraits and scenes captured on the streets and subways of New York.

“I’m really inserted in narrative painting … I’m interested in the ideas of the image, although the audience never knows what the inspiration of a particular painting might be,” he said.

Harris says a painting can take as little as a few days or a week, but sometimes as long as a few months.

“I spend a lot of time doing preliminary drawings and studies, I take a lot of photographs. I work on PhotoShop, I do preliminaries and then begin work on a canvas and work on that until I’m satisfied with the work,” he said.

"She Always Had an Artistic Eye" (2015 oil on canvas), inspired by an obituary from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
“She Always Had an Artistic Eye” (2015 oil on canvas), inspired by an obituary from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Harris has shown his work before in Davidson: He did a show of abstract drawings at the mid-1990s Christa Faut Gallery on Main Street in the 1990s. 

This show is what Harris calls a “fairly narrow window” of his recent work. One set of portraits are inspired by quotations Harris finds in obituaries published in daily newspapers – words that capture the essence of a loved one. Others are based on ideas Harris has picked up in online courses on existential philosophy. Still others are based on scenes he has seen on the street, including New York, where he has taken his camera to capture inspiration.

He says in a statement: “The paintings in the Town Hall exhibition represent the narrative themes I have been interested in over the past few years: identity, self awareness, intimacy, mortality and spirituality. These themes were inspired by the books I happened to be reading or the college courses I take over the internet. The themes are important to the issue of how to live. In the end, I believe a life might well be measured by how fully we live, how deeply we love and how completely we let go. “

Harris has a bachelor’s degree in engineering operations and has studied art and painting at Central Piedmont Community College, UNC Asheville and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.

He’s a longtime supporter of environmental conservation, local history, social justice and public education. And he’s actually dedicating this show as a fundraiser for three local nonprofits – Davidson Housing Coalition, Davidson Lands Conservancy and the Ada Jenkins Center.

“The paintings aren’t technically for sale, as they are priceless,” he jokes. But if anyone would like to have one, he says, he’ll swap it for a $500 donation to one of the groups.


The exhibit is on display Sept. 12 to Oct. 18, 2015, in the atrium at Davidson Town Hall, 216 S. Main St. Davidson.

A reception is planned Saturday, Sept. 12, from 4-6pm in the gallery.

Find out more about Harris and his work at EdHarrisArt.com.

NOTE: I manage the gallery wall at Town Hall and I’m always looking for art, photography or other ideas for exhibits. Email me at boraksd@gmail.com.


See a video on YouTube (3:30) – apologies for a bit of technical trouble with audio.


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