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Don Harvey

Let Me Concentrate
ink on handmade paper
60" x 76.5"

(b. 1941 – Gruver, IA) Don Harvey’s incomparably diverse and influential work has been a sustaining cultural force in Northeast Ohio for decades. His drawings are consistently graphic and are patterned without being inflexibly so. In Let Me Concentrate, Harvey arranges a grid of twenty panels. Each of the twenty segments is then filled by blocks of color and broken by splatters, drips, or small figurative elements. Differing typefaces and spacing further break up the rigidity of the space and reinforces the powerful statement.

Making art in a time of great confusion, for a public that feels increasingly unknowable and concerning, Harvey has been asking himself where to begin again as an artist and what topics and social needs ought to be addressed. In this work, he declares as a first principle that the artistic practice must be, before anything else, a clearing of the deck, an emptying of the space, of the noise, and to begin with concentration. It is a sobering call, a siren for us all, to regain thoughtful clarity from those who would take it from us.

Harvey received an MFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. In addition to numerous public art spaces, his work can be found in the collections of the Akron Art Museum, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Museum of Art, and Kalamazoo Institute of Art, MI. He is the recipient of the 2010 Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Community Partnership for Arts & Culture, and the 1991 Cleveland Arts Prize in Visual Arts. Harvey is Emeritus Professor of Art at the University of Akron and was recently Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Oberlin College.

From the nominating artist: 

I remember years ago seeing Don Harvey’s paintings and sculptures at the Cleveland Museum of Art, MOCA, and after, the William Busta Gallery. I admire Don Harvey’s intelligence and craftsmanship using materials ‘unlike’ and creating a combination of seduction and danger.
— Dexter Davis

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