We had the good fortune of connecting with Harriet Silverstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Harriet, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is an important ingredient for any kind of development and growth, such as professional, personal and spiritual. The best risks are combined with confidence and trust in yourself. Analysis and information are very significant but so is a gut feeling or intuition. I have found that gut feeling or intuition about a risk is almost perfectly right, for me. I have made defining decisions in my own life with that flash or spark of intuition, and everything was right. (I will qualify this and write that anything dangerous or harmful to your complete well-being is obviously exempt). I feel that risk is part of the excitement of my artwork and career. Risk is the spark that starts a new painting or any form of art. Starting with that spark and gut feeling opens unanticipated new doors and directions.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am known as a multimedia artist actively working in painting, metal sculpture, collage, mixed media and book art. It is exciting to me that all of my work is recognizable for its lush, heavy tactile and sensual physical and visual qualities. My distinctive application of rich colors is boldly gestural, vibrant and spontaneous. This is characteristic of all my work. I am most proud of the fact that my work is distinguishable in all of the varied media that I choose, and that I choose to constantly expand my work with new media. I love artistic materials that reveal my physical process, and how raw energy thrives in a completed work. My paintings are inspired by natural color and light, in the ways they define organic form and texture. The illuminating light of South Florida, with its brilliant brights and the deep, dark lushness of its shadows, is especially inspiring to me. I love building layers of juicy color in paint, pastel and collage; scraping back and then adding pools of paint and form. My 2-D work provides the viewer with a strong graphic from a distance but up close they are rewarded with layers of color and line. My sculptures of endangered animals are meant to intensify awareness and appreciation for critically endangered animals. I choose my media for the flexible, tangibly direct and expressive linear qualities that I also love in painting and drawing. My goal is to create sculpture that displays the living presence of these animals and to inspire support for preservation. Professionally, I started exhibiting my work in galleries and museums while I was a fellowship student in France and never stopped. I think it is important to exhibit because it makes you develop, and see your work and self, more objectively. It is a continuous challenge to keep everything moving forward at once, and live a balanced life. It never stops. It is not easy and I don’t think it’s supposed to be easy. I think challenges, with both good and bad results, shape you over time. My brand is positive, uplifting, bold and refined and my work is intended to engage the viewer so that they can repeatedly enter a unique world of visual experience in color and line. I work in both figurative and abstract subjects. I want the world to know that commissions are welcome and I have experience with this. Here are Lessons Learned/Golden Rules I have learned to practice: – Consistency and perseverance are the core of my work ethic – Mistakes and rejections offer the best learning opportunities because they encourage objective review, so there really are no mistakes – There is never “too much” exhibition scheduling or “too much” required for an exhibition and/or project. If you want to do something, adjust yourself and do it – One must be brave to fully represent one’s art – Always stay calm and be genuine, especially when you don’t feel this way – People interested in your art are also interested in you so don’t be afraid to promote your work and yourself
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 1 – Starting in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, we tour the History Fort Lauderdale Museum and the New River Artists Collaborative Studios there, featuring mine! Next is the NSU Museum’s contemporary art exhibit followed by a walk to Las Olas Boulevard for shopping & browsing. Later, we lounge on the beach and have a leisurely dinner at Casablanca Cafe. Day 2 – First stop is an excellent artist’s exhibition at the Bailey Contemporary Art Center Gallery. Upstairs, we find several artists in their studios. Dandee Donuts is perfect to buy some donuts to take along the beach here. Later in the day, we watch the sunset before eating at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach. Day 3 – We head to Miami to see the Perez Museum of Contemporary Art. Next, Wynwood to see the Wynwood Walls, galleries, and boutiques, the Bake House Artists Studios, and we stop at Joey’s Italian Cafe. Day 4 – Fat Village, ArtServe, and the MASS District. We stop at Urban Cafe for coffee and have lunch at Henry’s Sandwich Shop. We have dinner and attend a concert at The Broward Performing Arts Center. Day 5 – We go to West Palm Beach, Clematis Street, the Norton Museum and the memorable Restoration Hardware Restaurant. Just as we saw beauty at the Norton Museum, the spectacular interior and top terraces at the Restoration Hardware Restaurant leave a beautiful lasting impression. Day 6 – I have booked us for an airboat tour of the Everglades, to see the natural beauty of Florida. When we arrive, we are greeted by our guide and given life preservers. The tropical forest is magnificent. Later in the evening, we dine at Big Bear Restaurant in Coral Springs and then attend a jazz concert at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This Shoutout is dedicated to my parents, family and a university professor who all made an enormous difference in my life. My parents loved the art and culture of NYC and always took me along to museums, concerts, plays, etc. from an early age. Professionally, they were in Finance and Business but had a passion for collecting art. They instilled me with solid respect for: visual and performing art; great writing and literature; education; perseverance; ambition and approaching life with passion, joy, humor, plus more. My family is loving, understanding and dynamic. They are wonderful individuals who always support me, while managing their own strong careers. Professor Hugh Townley was an extraordinary sculptor, professor of art at Brown University, friend and mentor. He was the only professor in the Ivy League without a college education but, what he had was brilliance and a love for teaching. His wood sculptures are in permanent collections at many museums. He was my most important mentor and friend during college years and after.
Hank Henley Photographer