A & E Harlan Goldman-Besma

Published on March 4th, 2017 | by Lilly Lecanu-Fayet

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Mural artist at Samo

In the playground of a Venice family shelter, The Bible Tabernacle, there is a kid standing on a ladder holding a paintbrush. As the sun sets he paints the images of people walking in one of his favorite places: Venice Beach.

Harlan Goldman-Belsma (’17), an AP art student, started working on this mural in a Venice shelter on Feb. 11 as part of his eagle project for boy scouts. With the help of volunteers from the shelter and his troop they were able to paint the base color and background and now he is filling in the remaining details.

“It was really fun to have everyone out there helping out with rollers and paint brushes,” Goldman-Belsma said. “It felt like it was really starting to come together and feel real.”

The piece is a large scale mural covering the whole wall of the playground area in the shelter. Goldman-Belsma wanted the kids from the shelter to have a deep connection and appreciation to the piece so he had them help him out with the beginning stages. They enjoyed the work so much that now he is working on sectioning off an area where they can just be free to pain whatever they want at any time.

Goldman-Belsma is a skateboarder who can be found around the clock at the Venice skate park. He is there so often that it has started to feel like a second home, which is reflected in his painting. His first mural was in his neighbor’s doorway and it shows a man skateboarding with his dog laying down next to the pool.

“Skateboarding is something that has been present all through my high school years,” Goldman-Belsma said. “I enjoy the activity for its unique ability to express individuality and style. When I paint skateboarders, I try to capture their gracefulness in a way that any outsider can comprehend.”

Painting is a very meditative practice, especially for Goldman-Belsma. He has to be in a relaxed mood and even then it takes him a lot of patience to get to a point in his pieces where he is                      satisfied. He paints with the idea of “less is more” in mind, using few brushstrokes to portray character and meaning.

Goldman-Belsma is inspired by David Hockney and his use of vivid colors and exaggeration. His art is a screenshot of what he is seeing in his daily life, and he doesn’t think of it as philosophical. His greatest inspiration is everything he sees around him and the beauty he encounters every day.

The goal for his art is to make something he likes and making sure that other people enjoy looking at it as well. By using fewer brushstrokes and less detail he feels that he is able to leave more of his art to interpretation and that it can be more widely enjoyed.

The mural at the shelter is the second one he has done. For his next one, he has his sights set on leaving a permanent mark on Samo. The new ASB mural that is being offered to students is an incredible opportunity for all student artists and Golden-Belsma is in the process of getting it commissioned to him.

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