It seems very far away from the bustle of Madison Avenue and Connecticut’s advertising scene to find Harry Rich living in Vermont off a dirt road, surrounded by farms and mountains – but that’s where he has found peace and renewed inspiration.
I always admired Harry. He was very instrumental in hiring me early in my career, introducing me to many corporate and education clients, some of which I still work with today. Harry retired from the advertising world to southern Vermont, and I caught up with him again when he came down to the “flatlands” to be a panelist in the “Legends of Design in Connecticut”, a sold-out event held at New Britain Museum of Art sponsored by the Connecticut Art Directors Club and AIGA.
It was a pleasure to spend time with Harry and Mallory Rich recently when they invited Joanne and I to their house and studio in Sandgate, Vermont. It was great to talk with Harry again and to meet Mallory, who once ran a well known writing business in Connecticut, and is now a successful landscape painter.
It is interesting to note the difference in painting styles between Harry and Mallory. Harry is abstract while Mallory is more pictorial. The highlight of our visit was the rare opportunity to get personal insights into the artists’ work. Harry’s love of music and nature is a recurring theme in his work, and to hear him describe the intensive creative process shed new light and appreciation to what he laid out on the canvas. He mentioned that on some pieces, he works them for years – forever tweaking, adding, subtracting, evolving and sometimes starting all over. “How does one put a price on that?”, I thought.
Harry and Mallory exhibit their work extensively, often piling up canvases in their truck and treading the country roads to distant galleries. On a recent trip to an exhibition in Montepelier, the painting that appears on Harry’s business card actually flew off the back of the truck on route. The four foot square painting was recovered undamaged by a passing motorist who managed to locate Harry and return it to him a few days later. Harry jokes that it might have been a reflection of his work that the couple did not want to keep it, but more than likely, it’s just how Vermonters are.
In a world away from the buzz of marketing, Harry is also quite content working to keep his land from being overtaken by the surrounding forests. I imagine Harry looking over his magnificent landscape, absorbing it all with Schubert playing in the background and thinking – life is good, very good.
To see more of Harry and Mallory’s work please visit their websites at www.harryarich.com and www.malloryrich.com.