Interior designer Todd Oldham, who reality and design show junkies will recognize as the contestants’ mentor on Bravo’s “Top Design” (or maybe not from this photo... you're probably used to him sans beard), is visiting the Wexner Center this Sunday for a free discussion and signing of his newest chronicling Charley Harper illustrations.
Oldham, whose creative ingenuity is deserving of respect in its own right, is a huge fan of the artist. His latest book, “Charley Harper’s Animal Kingdom,” is a heavy tome of nature-related images made by the artist. We asked Oldham why he loves Harper and what he discovered about Harper’s art while compiling the images.
Read his answers below, and visit the lecture on Sunday. The new book will be available at a 20 percent discount (the arts center’s store has myriad other Harper products for sale), and Reed Arts from Grandview (read more about Reed Arts’ Charley Harper connection here) will also be hosting a pop-up show of original Harper artworks.
This Charley Harper work is the cover of Todd Oldham’s latest book, “Charley Harper’s Animal Kingdom.” The original print is also on view at Reed Arts in Grandview. Image courtesy AMMO Books.
Why focus on Harper’s animals in this new book?
Animals of all sorts were charley’s lifelong muses, so it made perfect sense to focus the new book on his exquisite nature paintings and collages.
A lot of the images are previously unpublished or unseen. Is there anything in those images that you think will surprise readers?
There are a terrific amount of paintings in the new book that show up-close what an amazing painter Charley was and his unparalleled skill set.
Is there any image in the book with a particular story that you love or an image in the book that you really connected with?
I love the earliest piece we have from Charley very much; it was a health poster with a fantastic whale that he made when he was 8 years old. All of the Harper skills we know today were in full bloom when he was a kid.
Do you own any works of Harper’s animals?
I have almost every Ford Times image Charley silkscreened and a few paintings that continue to thrill me every day.
Why do you think Harper’s images of wildlife have become so iconic of the artist?
No one was concerned about getting the details right more than Charley, so his attention to exact detail mixed with his remarkable interpretations are always spot on. They are not cartoons of animals and the realism is fully present, so we can look at them the way one would [at an] Audubon [drawing]. Everything Charley painted or drew feels iconic.