Home Art-1 Paul Harryn: A Four-Decade Artistic Odyssey of Contrast and Creation

Paul Harryn: A Four-Decade Artistic Odyssey of Contrast and Creation

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By Ann Williams

Paul Harryn has embarked on a remarkable artistic journey that has spanned four decades, a trajectory marked by a steady ascent. Born in the vibrant tapestry of Bethlehem, PA in 1952, a time when the industrial prowess of Bethlehem Steel Corporation held sway across the globe, Harryn’s creative inclinations were kindled amidst the alchemical symphony of steel production. The intricate interplay of logistics, the mesmerizing alchemy of transformation, and the awe-inspiring magnitude of industrial scale awakened in him a profound appreciation for the latent power harbored by ideas. Concurrently, the pristine allure of rural Bucks County and the enchanting Pocono Mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania beckoned to him. These contrasting landscapes—the rhythmic pulse of industry versus the sublime tranquility of nature—became the twin pillars that continue to underpin his artistic pursuits.

Paul Harryn


Harryn’s artistic pedigree is an intricate interweaving of individual vision and the tapestry of art history. His creations are a harmonious blend of historical echoes and contemporary idioms, bridging the chasm between the past and the present. Themes woven into his canvases emerge from the interconnected strands of nature, culture, philosophy, science, and spirituality, forming a rich tableau of human experience and cosmic wonder.

His educational journey encompassed revered institutions like Northampton Community College, Kutztown University, the New Arts Program, and the esteemed Philadelphia College of Art. The seeds of his solo exhibitions were sown in 1977, propelling him into a prolific orbit that spanned the vast expanse of the United States and Europe until the late 1990s. His artistic footprints graced the cultural tapestries of iconic cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and resonated within his native Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.

One of Harryn’s works. ON STAGE, 9 ft. H x 7 ft W,
Ink and acrylic paint on stretched canvas,
– Based on one of George Sefaris’ “Three Secret Poems”


The mid-1990s heralded a transformative juncture in Harryn’s creative evolution. Accompanied by a treasure trove of books, reference materials, and a symphony of music, he embarked on a pilgrimage of authenticity, retreating from the clamor of academic and commercial influences. Amidst the embrace of Eastern Pennsylvania’s forests and the sun-dappled shores of southern California, he harnessed the crucible of solitude to forge his unique artistic vision. This vision sought to distill the quintessence of diverse environments into emblematic landscapes, where his brushstrokes birthed experiential mindscapes echoing the pulse of specific events and thematic narratives.

Eminent art critic John Yau captured the essence of Harryn’s eclectic and exploratory journey with evocative words. Yau’s eloquence encapsulated the enigmatic nature of Harryn’s artistry—a journey of a mind attempting to fathom itself while grappling with the enigma of the external world.

Over two decades, Harryn has etched his identity onto a pastoral haven near the Delaware River—a bucolic retreat he aptly christened Arcadia. In 1988, he embarked on a series of interludes, immersing himself in the studios of Venice and Santa Monica, California, seeking to infuse his narrative with fresh perspectives. These transcontinental artistic sojourns infused his works with nuanced insights into the nexus of culture and creativity. His annual pilgrimages to Europe and Southern California remain an integral thread in his artistic tapestry, where he engages with the expansive canvas of the Pacific Ocean—from the artistic vibrancy of Venice to the rugged grandeur of Malibu or the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert.

In the present day, Paul Harryn’s creations find their rightful place in private collections across the globe, a testament to the universal language his art speaks. His stature is further validated by the prestigious commissions he attracts, each bearing witness to his ability to transmute visions into tangible marvels. The corridors of museums also bear testimony to his artistic resonance, with esteemed institutions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College cherishing his works. The Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, the Reading Public Museum, and the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University complete the constellation of institutions that celebrate his legacy.

The corporate realm has also succumbed to the allure of Harryn’s creations. From PPL Electric Utilities to Liberty Property Trust, B. Braun Medical, Inc. to the Fuller-Kovaco Corporation, Just Born Quality Confections to the Silberline Corporation, his works resonate with narratives that transcend the confines of canvas.

Paul Harryn’s artistic odyssey is a symphony of contrasts—the monumental and the ethereal, history and modernity. His canvases are portals to exploration, a testament to the unquenchable human thirst for understanding and self-discovery. As his brush continues to dance upon the canvas, his legacy endures as a tribute to the indomitable power of creative expression.

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