By Chris Harms
The following is an unedited paper written in 2009 for my AP English class at Del Campo High School, taught by Mr. Wagner. We were tasked with visiting local art galleries and to chronicle our experience. I chose my grandfather's gallery in Paradise, California.
Out of all the galleries I’ve been to, this one means the most to me. Although I’ve been to this gallery on countless occasions, I’ve never viewed his work with as much appreciation as I did on Christmas Day 2009. With just as many of pieces of art in both paintings and ceramics as any local art gallery, my grandfather, Ellis Harms, owns his very own studio/gallery in what the family called home for many years until the major addition of the current house, complete with the kitchen sink as his sink to wash brushes and bowls, a fireplace that Santa once climbed down, and most memorably the shower in the corner of the room. Amongst the walls coated with clay masks, clay decorations, and paintings. The shelves below crammed with ceramic pots, vases, and creations that set him apart from other artists displaying his very imaginative personality.
Whether dogs of every breed, size, or shape, frogs of every color, dragons of every castle, masks of cartoons, Vikings, and much more, my grandpa’s uniqueness never seizes to amaze me with his ability to design new shapes between every visit of mine exclaiming, “There are no ends to ideas.” Virtually every trip to the cabin, he would have a new theme of interest.
My grandpa spent much of his life admiring what clay artists could do with creations but mostly with pull pots on a spin wheel and always wanted to try it. He took a class over 20 years ago and has stuck with clay ever since. “It never gets old because you never really know how it’s going to turn out and everything you could do with it,” explained Grandpa. He holds an open studio every fall where he puts most pieces for sale so all can enjoy.
Although every piece of his deserves to be credited, the one that intrigues me most is the life-size clay sculpture of his head that he constructed in an art class nearly twenty years ago. While using nothing but a mirror, my grandfather formed an exact replica of him from the shoulders on up, mastering every aspect of his beauty.
While there’s nothing like having the actual artist himself present his work to you while giving a background on every piece, there’s nothing like having that artist be your grandfather. Whether a three-foot-tall coral pot, or his “masterpiece” of a painting in a roll of toilet paper with tremendous shading, my grandfather was more than glad to take me through every step of his creation, leaving me with more than four pages of notes and a mind full of ideas.
While I know him mostly for the kindheartedness, loving “grandpa” side, whom I enjoy conversing, exploring, and joking with, his “artistic” side is just as mesmerizing.