We had the good fortune of connecting with Brooke Harker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brooke, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Art starts conversations and that is something the world can always use, a willingness to take in different perspectives. Since I paint outdoors in my yard passersby often stop to look at what I’m making. They tell me about places in their memories or where they wish to go as my paintings depict locations around the world. Others share their experiences with art or about their loved ones who’ve been artists. One woman approached me at my patio through tears to let me know that seeing my art gave her a sense of hope during a difficult divorce. She bought herself some art supplies and set up a painting station on her coffee table. Another day, a six year old insisted her parents stop the car as they passed so she could meet me. With bold confidence she asked if she could return to paint with me. The next day she rolled up with a little pink suitcase full of art supplies and set up an easel next to mine. As I’ve embedded the adventure of meeting people in my business whether at home or on location, I see the value in constructing community wherever I go, because we are all on this planet together. Everyone has a story to tell and a perspective to share. To embrace this idea in any profession provides opportunities of unknown proportions. In my business, I care about connections with other artists because I believe in the power of art to light up the world. In late March of 2020, during quarantine stay at home orders, I started Saturday Night Live Art Shows on Facebook, a project that encourages artists around the world to have art shows from home to brighten social media feeds. A few of my friends (artists: Sheryl Benjy, Nichole McDaniel and Joan Marie) joined immediately as co-hosts of this endeavor. So far artists have joined us from all over the U.S, Israel, Italy, Spain, the U.K., Canada, Mexico, and Western Australia on Saturdays between 6-9pm in their time zones.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My paintings are about the connections between people, and that is the case whether there are human figures in the paintings or architecture, cars and boats. This world is driven by the choices of people and how those actions impact everyone. Whether people see the paintings I make in galleries, on-line or in the homes of art collectors, these artworks are made up of thousands of strokes that mirror what we all do every day. Everyone makes thousands of decisions in life. These paintings are a visual record of the kind of persistence it takes to live in the world. In painting, I leave visible evidence of how I’ve spent my time in dabs of ink and thick colorful oil paint. I take thousands of steps to obtain references images and then to and from the easel to make paintings. Others take thousands of steps to raise a child, to work to fuel a car or to construct a building, all subjects that appear in and contribute to the scenes I depict. Most stories go untold to the masses, so I’ve cast myself as the storyteller of seemingly ordinary moments. As I come from a background of theater, which is a collaborative effort to tell stories, I’ve come up with a way to make the solo experience of painting a community event. To me, where there is collaboration, I am home…I guess I’m always home because we are all collaborators whether we choose to see it or not. In process, I’m an ambidextrous painter. I use my left hand to render the ink scenes that become the foundation of my paintings and my right hand to apply the oil paint with palette knives. I draw reference from the photos I’ve taken or sketches I’ve made live on location. I look for pops of color that coordinate in the same frame. I believe this helps the eyes of viewers to travel about the image freely. I want people to have the opportunity when they look at my paintings to feel the kind of freedom I experience when I travel. There is an opportunity in seeing the world from a different perspective, to taste new foods, listen to the sounds of another language or to look into the eyes of a person on the street and see that they have a light that shines through their eyes too. Such recognition of a moment doesn’t have to require long distance travel. There is magic to witness in moments everywhere. I believe delight is in the details.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I had a friend visiting, our choices would depend on the interests of my friend and if they want to be more busy or chill. I have many friends who have come here for healing reasons as this is “The City of Angels,” and there are so many amazing people to help with health and mindset—some of which I mention in my dedication for this ShoutOut. Here are some highlights based on the area of town. The San Fernando Valley- (Sherman Oaks): on Tuesdays a visit to the farmer’s market to see my favorite vendors, yoga classes at Black Dog Yoga, (Encino): Rice and Noodle LA to eat Pho and to meet the owner Kwan, Green Cottage in Encino (my dad’s favorite restaurant when he visits) Synergy by Claudio on Ventura to get a combination massage that includes multiple techniques including hot stones + Qi-Gong on Saturday mornings there with Shoshana; (Canoga Park) Follow Your Heart the iconic vegetarian restaurant/grocery store that hosted my first art show in LA. (Malibu): A drive along the PCH to El Matador (the first beach my sister ever took me to when I first visited LA), a hike to Solstice Canyon to see the waterfall. Westside: I love the restaurant Upper West where the owner Fred features original art on the walls by local artists and the food is amazing, a visit to the art studios at the Barker Hanger, (Culver City) Samosa House has a great vegetarian Indian buffet and grocery store; (Santa Monica): A ride on the Ferris Wheel! Normally I don’t like the congested energy of crowds at theme parks, for whatever reason, I adore the Santa Monica Pier, it feels magical to me. A bike ride along the beach between Santa Monica and Venice is a must. (Venice): a walk along the canals. For nightlife: swing dance at Rusty’s Rhythm Room in El Segundo or to hear my friend’s band, Hardshine, that often plays at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica and includes a swing dance lesson. I would also look for suggestions by Kathy Leonardo who runs www.LAArtParty.com and always knows what is happening in the city. Downtown LA/Koreatown/Rampart Village- (Koreatown): I like the Olympic Spa; (Rampart Village) A visit to Gabba Gallery where I’ve participated annually in group exhibits for several years. (Downtown LA) my buddy Matt and his wife Lindsey started The Pie Hole, so I would show off one of their locations and tell the story of when I first heard him talking about his dream to have a café and how cool it is to see a dream come true in such a big way. (La Canada) I love the Rose Gardens in the Descanso Gardens and especially adore The Enchanted Forest of Lights which happens there in the November/Dec. time frame. I would recommend any friends who want to have a photo experience in LA get photos taken by Kimberlee Peterson of Lotta Photo for headshots or Heather Hart or Ala Mode Photo for photos on the beach. If my visiting friend has a family with children who needs swim lessons for a child, a private lifeguard for the day or a stand up paddle instructor, I would link them to my sister Katie Harker who is a ninja at working with the minds of children in the water and is a trainer for the Red Cross in CPR and a trainer of lifeguards. A day trip or weekend in Orange County: Laguna Beach is a place very dear to my heart. I love to take people to have breakfast at the Shake Shack overlooking the cottages of Crystal Cove. Of course a visit to Lu Martin Galleries who represents my art along with other amazing artists such as Martin Beaupré, Dasha Guilliam, Jennifer Verge, Nichole McDaniel and more. The first Thursday of the month is the Laguna Beach Artwalk and in the summer a cute old fashion trolley runs up and down the PCH to shuttle people for free to the various galleries and major art events. Heisler Park is my favorite little beach across from the gallery. I also like to walk along the main beach which has appeared in many of my paintings, especially summer scenes with colorful umbrellas and beach goers. At night, I like to look at the twinkle lights of the city from the gazebo overlooking the main beach.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate my ShoutOut to Lu Martin & Greg Martin at Lu Martin Galleries in Laguna Beach, CA. They’ve represented my paintings in their gallery seven days a week since 2014. They are a mirror of the kind of family I grew up with: honest, kind, supportive, loyal, and giving. They both accept me as I am and challenge me to evolve beyond the limitations I’ve made up for myself in the past. They’ve stood by me through more challenging times in life and have been a huge part of my foundation as a professional artist. I know that when someone goes to see my paintings they are in good hands with Lu and Greg because their values match what I care about- people. My family is also an endless source of love and support along with dear friends all over the world who’ve kept me laughing. A list of teachers, mentors and coaches over the years have influenced my development as a person and an artist. I’ve learned that making art is about far more than putting paint on a canvas. As artists and people we are instruments that get to be tuned to be in harmony with what we want to express. Eternal thanks to some of my Los Angeles team of health and mindset superheroes: Patricia Bolter who was my first go to person in LA for self development at hypnosis-eft.com; Dr. Sai-ling Michael & Dr. Josh Michael at Evertruth Healthquest who’ve supported me beyond measure, Mairead whose spiritual work is beyond words, Pam Castillo at Clarity Institute who trained me as a Licensed Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (a study that drastically improved my ability to navigate through life and help others along the way), Barbara Deutsch, a coach of creative people and someone I’m proud to have cheering in my corner, Chellie Campbell, author of Zero to Zillionaire another star on my roster of people to look up. Alyson Stanfield of Art Biz Success and author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio is an amazing resource for artists around the world and has been an influence in my art business for years.
Lotta Photo; Gilbert Molinet