(MORRISTOWN, NJ) – End of Elm + Art Gallery presents ‘Just Disintegrate’, by Scott Harbison from February 7th to April 3rd, 2023. This is a collection of neoexpressionist paintings featuring alien beings in a universe of Harbison’s imagination. The artists opening reception will be held on Wednesday, February 15th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.
Harbison is a self-taught, Newark-based painter who describes himself as an outsider artist. He creates large-scale works on canvas depicting cartoonish, otherworldly beings who encounter each other with curiosity, hope, shame, and suspicion.
“My notion is that all life forms from all galaxies would eventually co-exist. I’ve always had this funny idea that we would all intermingle, and these other weird species would evolve,’’ says Harbison. “In a sense, I am leaving behind hieroglyphics, useless to anyone unless they are interested in my version of a not-too-distant reality.’’
His creations evoke cartoons from the 1950s and 1960s, although the paintings don’t reference any specific style or artist. Many of his creatures have arrived to surveil different species after humans have become extinct; others are trying to form connections, said Harbison. He hopes viewers will create their own scenarios.
“There’s no consistent storyline,” he says. With regards to the exhibit theme of ‘Just Disintegrate’, and works like “174-BS Detector”, Harbison muses, “I’m imagining a scenario where some group of lifeforms come to our planet to observe and survey for a prospective planet/ grab. One of the scouts notices the ‘Just Do It’ logo everywhere and mentions this to one of its superiors…in which case the superior responds with “Just Disintegrate!” In some ways (Just Disintegrate) is also an analogy for creating an empty slate/ blank canvas for my journey into recovery.”
Harbison began painting four years ago during recovery from a long-term addiction to drugs and alcohol. “This painting thing came out of left field,’’ Harbison says.
Collectors soon took an interest in his work, which is rendered on canvas or wooden board with acrylic and oil stick. In 2021, Akwaaba Gallery, Newark became the first gallery to show his paintings in the group exhibition “Aura.” Since, Harbison has had a solo exhibition at the Barsky Gallery in Hoboken and shown work at the Ivy Brown Gallery in New York. He also completed an ESKFF residency at MANA Contemporary in Jersey City.
Harbison grew up in Morris County, New Jersey and was raised in Roxbury. When asked how he feels about exhibiting his art in Morristown, so close to his childhood home, Harbison says, “It feels kinda the same as it did in like 1975 when I embarked on my first mysterious creative journey… being a singer for an original rock band and playing our first show at the Bell and Barter theatre in Rockaway. Within a year we were playing Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs. Only real difference is that this time I’m sober.” For many years, after his music career, he supported himself and his family as a plasterer and painter.
Since beginning his career as a visual artist, Harbison has finished more than 250 paintings – most of them on a monumental scale. Harbison says his do-it-yourself attitude and esthetic are left over from his punk rock days and hopes others will feel inspired to create art no matter their age, experience, or level of education.
“If I want anyone to take anything from my art it’s that, not only can things come seemingly out of nowhere, but you can do this on your own. I want to bring the message to all the misfits and the people who can’t afford art school that it doesn’t matter that much. Don’t worry,’’ he says.
End of Elm + Art Gallery, is located at 140 Morris Street, Morristown, New Jersey. The art gallery was established in 2018, under the curatorship of Christina Lewis. Recently Laurie Pettine has taken on the role of guest curator. The formula is simple: craft cocktails, tailored plates, and a welcoming atmosphere to create lasting memories. The addition of cutting-edge visual art exhibits and live music adds to the unique End of Elm experience. Get off the beaten path and discover End of Elm, serving up innovative cocktails and shareable plates in a stylish, warm environment. Tucked away by the Morristown Train Station, End of Elm is Morristown’s hidden gem.
Contact: Phone: (973) 998-4534 or visit www.endofelm.com