Upper West Restaurant Presents "Memoirs of Cities" Featuring the Paintings of Brooke Harker!

Upper West Restaurant has been supporting artists since it first opened. The wildly popular restaurant is known for its American fusion cuisine but unlike most restaurants the art on the walls has become a very important part of the ambiance of the charming establishment.

Upper West Flyer

The paintings of Brooke Harker will be celebrated in a new show entitled "Memoirs of Cities," on Sunday February 21 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Harker recently returned from showing her work in Italy.  I had the chance to interview her upcoming show.

 

Tell me about one of the works that will be featured at Upper West.

Avalon Days 2drew inspiration from a series of sketches made on a visit to Catalina early during my time in LA. Taking a ferry to the island to sketch for a couple of days felt the most like traveling internationally upon arrival in California (other than visits to Venice Beach which definitely felt like another country to me at the time). I have always been drawn to international scenes. The colorful buildings and boats of Avalon reminded me of Europe where I had just lived for two years prior to LA. There is a feeling I get when I go out to sketch in such a place that feels like something in my heart settles. Avalon 2 began and came to fruition nearly a decade after the sketches. I had to call the collector who bought the sketches and ask to borrow them to make the big paintings (Avalon 1, the sibling painting found it's home). She gladly agreed since she had encouraged me to do such for years.

Brooke Harker, Festive Days 36 x 48, ink, acrylic & oil on canvas

 

How long does it take you to create one work?

The time it takes to make a painting completely varies. I have only recently attempted to track the time in the process from start to finish. However, that really doesn’t include time spent thinking about the painting or the months I sometimes leave them on a drying rack until I figure out what do with them next. Since I work on multiple paintings at the same time (usually ten are in process at the same time) it can be a little tricky to figure out what goes into each of them. During my time in Italy, I started a journal to track the progress on each of them since people would ask me and I never knew the answer…I guess I usually prefer to focus my energy on painting over counting the hours. However, when I agreed to go to Italy and paint a solo exhibit, I really wished I knew how long it took me to make the paintings because I agreed without really knowing how I was going to do the project.   

 

Do you always start with a photo?  Or does it change?

The selection of artworks selected by Upper West are almost an even split between being inspired from live sketches made on location and photographs that I have taken. I absolutely adore sketching live in public yet there are times when I want a perspective that is in the middle of the street or a scene at night. Broadway & 6th comes from a photograph taken while I was crossing the street downtown LA. I also get a lot of inspiration while I am out with other people to dinner or at other social gatherings. Since I don’t carry my sketch supplies everywhere nor would it be appropriate to start sketching every time I see what would be a great painting, I'm thankful to have a camera. I often work off of photos taken from a phone when I don't have a larger camera with me. For example, I took the photo for Heart of the View on a friend's phone. Working with a camera to capture compositions is a bit of a game for me. Since I work with moving subjects who don’t know they are the source of my next painting, I have fun attempting to snap the photo when the people and cars are in the perfect positions to lead the viewer’s eyes into the painting.  With sketching, I stand in a place for hours and the result is the accumulation of details from many moments. 

Carnival of Dreams by Brooke Harker 48 x 48 ink-acrylic-oil on canvas 2011

 

What do you think of the food at Upper West?

There is something unique and classy about the tastes and presentation that relates in a parallel way to exhibiting original art…so I guess it is no wonder that they love to show original art there.

 

“Memoirs of Cities” opens at Upper West Restaurant on Sunday, February 21, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. located at 3321Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica 90404; 310 586-1111;  http://www.theupperwest.com/

 

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