I met Harry Underwood after one of his paintings spoke to me from behind the popcorn machine at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville.
I was there to speak at a country music radio conference, and was idling around the lobby when that beautiful painting beckoned. I asked the guy behind the counter if it was for sale or if it was part of an exhibition. Neither made sense to him, so he kindly tracked down the artist’s details for me. That was 2004. Since then, that painting, titled “A Southern Energy Home,” and several others have become part of our family.
Over the last few years, I have introduced Harry’s paintings to friends and business contacts that were attracted to the same warmth and curiosity that seems to inhabit his work that I am. In the
process, I have seen Harry grow and stretch his imagination to fit his determination and work ethic, and to produce paintings that I think quite magnificent. As he has done with his paintings and their hidden meanings, over the years Harry has unmasked a fierce ambition beneath a calm and self-effacing persona. Recently, Harry and his wife Rebekah visited with us on the way to Santa Barbara for a show. I was pleased to see his new work and how happy having a partner has made him.
Luke and I still have all the Harry paintings we have collected, except for one. That painting I gave to couple whom shared my passion for its simplicity. “Columbia Bicycle” is still in the family, though: Matt and Carrie have hung it proudly inside Imogene + Willie. It justfits.
- Bill Bennett
Hello, I’m Harry Underwood. I’ve been painting pictures for a decade. I live in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m 42 years old. I have a wife, a dog, and a cat. I used to not have a wife and a dog. I used to have two cats. I lived alone in a small town and I’d walk down the street to see the train tracks in the snow and to look at the train. I don’t get to travel very often, but my paintings do. I’m a good driver. When I moved to Nashville, I only owned a bicycle.
The people I meet usually have the right ideas about my paintings. Paintings are like dreams, but dreams are easy to make. All you have to do is fall to sleep. To paint, you have to wake up every day and pretend that you’re still sleeping. Paintings take quite a lot of time to do, and that’s why I do them.
If you add music to a picture, it will look more interesting – if it’s interesting.
I try to paint pictures I’d like to see. I spent my early life in the tropics – in Florida. Florida is unusual. I never realized that until I moved away. My pictures aren’t about Florida, and they’re not about the 1950′s or the 1940′s.
Paintings aren’t real, but there are real paintings. You hang them on walls and look at them. If you have batches of information too difficult to articulate with speech, a painting is a good place to put that information. That’s what I do. Art is very mysterious. It’s like having your own language.
To see more of Harry’s art, please go to www.artbyharry.com.
Many thanks to our dear Bill Bennett and the magnificent Harry Underwood for sharing his work with us all.