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Noted Benicia Artist Bill Harsh Loses Battle Against Cancer

The artist died Saturday at his Benicia home.

Well known Benicia artist Bill Harsh died Saturday October 27, 2012 at his east side home. 

A retrospective of Harsh’s work titled Inside Out is scheduled to open at the Vessel Gallery in Oakland on Tuesday October 30 and will run through December 1, 2012.

Harsh was an art educator as well as an artist and helped develop the teaching program at Arts Benicia where he taught print making.

Bay Area art critic and writer DeWitt Cheng is releasing a book titled Inside Out: Paintings of William Harsh at a reception to be held at the gallery on November 10.

In an announcement about the upcoming exhibition Cheng had this to say about the work of Bill Harsh:

"William Harsh’s paintings, prints and drawings have been variously (but incompletely) described as Expressionist, Surrealist and Metaphysical. Steeped in art history and developed through almost forty years of art practice, these works, distinguished by virtuoso draftsmanship and paint-handling, combine not only modernist art styles that are usually considered incompatible, but, as well, traditionally different genres: landscape, still life, and even nature study and portrait (though of an eccentric kind). In the current aesthetic climate, which has been described as postmodern and even, according to one eminent critic, as “post-art,” Harsh’s oeuvre, with its roots in Picasso, Chirico, Beckmann and Guston, among others, makes a convincing case for the virtues of authenticity, beauty, humor and power; his art demands and rewards serious looking, and delivers the aesthetic goods without apologies or excuses." 

Harsh earned a BFA and an MFA from Boston University, School of Fine Arts.  Besides his classes at Arts Benicia, Harsh taught in the Walnut Creek Civic Arts Education Program. 

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Sonny Flores October 29, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Our condolences to the Harsh Family. Kathleen & I were very saddened of reading of the loss of Bill Harsh this morning. Kathleen and many others who knew Bill or were a participant in his classes will truly feel this tremendous loss of a good man and the loss of his contribution to the arts of the Community of Benicia. I only knew Bill from for a short time compared to many, but he was always kind and a Gentlemen as in the true sense a "Gentle Man".
Joe Feltcher October 29, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Never heard of the guy.
Sonny Flores October 29, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Joe if you were not involved with the arts, as in hands on (Artist), many people here in Benicia probably did not know him as well. But it is another reminder how life can change very quickly, back to trying to enjoy all that we can,
Cathy Bennett October 29, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Bill was a very kind and talented art teacher. He had an ability to work with artists at every level, in just about any medium. He practically built the Arts Benicia classroom, literally! He showed grace and even humor right up to the last class. I only knew him for a year, but he inspired me, and helped me along my way. I will miss Bill, and everything that he brought to Arts Benicia, and to the Benicia Artist community. My heartfelt condolences go out to Bill's family and friends, as this is a huge loss for them.
"The Black Panther of Poetry" October 29, 2012 at 06:23 PM
My Condolences!!!
Mary Frances Poh October 29, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I have known Bill and his wife, Marilyn Bardet for many years. Bill was a kind and gracious man and our world is a little dimmer without his calm presence. I am looking forward to DeWill Cheng's book cataloging Bill's interesting career.
Kitty Griffin October 29, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Bill's personal warmth and gentleness, his lively and selfless encouragement of any spark of art in others, his passionate devotion to creating his own art, and not least of all his various and vital works themselves have stamped themselves on Benicia's identity. I'll be there on November 10th! Kitty Griffin
georgia carmichael October 30, 2012 at 08:30 AM
no body will have heard of you either, other than your downer debbie comments on Patch. This gentleman taught. Teaching takes empathy, compassion, and may he make more of a mark on this world than your juvinile (vile) jerk comments
Ruth Santee October 31, 2012 at 07:15 AM
Bye BH from MRS
Peter Colichidas October 31, 2012 at 11:08 PM
I knew Bill from the Shotokan Karate Academy in Benicia. During the past two years he didn't train with us until the past two months. I'm glad he came back eventhough it was only for a short time, he was a good man.
Cathy Bennett November 02, 2012 at 03:49 AM
I am disappointed that Arts Benicia isn't doing something to honor Bill. He contributed so much to the Adult Art Classes and was a major force in the development of their "classroom". It seems fitting for Arts Benicia to give something back to honor Bill, after benefiting so much from his years of devoted service.

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