Skip to main content

Gerald Harris paints the 'Lost Highway' of Route 41

05/18/2013 01:10AM, Published by Brian O, Categories: In Print, Arts+Entertainment, Today


Harris Photo by Richard L. Gaw



An artist's experiences on the road

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

For 15 years, Gerald Harris of Toughkenamon was the go-to guy at Mr. Mulch, a main supplier of soil, mulch, gravel and stones to businesses and homeowners throughout southern Chester County. From the company's miniscule office on Gap-Newport Pike in Landenberg, Harris facilitated hundreds of deliveries every week.

Then the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust came calling. 

They wanted to purchase the property where Mr. Mulch stood as part of a colossal project that became known as White Clay Point, and their plan called for the Mr. Mulch property to become a Wawa store. The owners sold, and Harris was suddenly out of a job.   

The wellspring of emotions from which art emerges is a crowded one. Grief and joy usually top the list. What brought Harris -- who has been painting since he was 5 -- to the former site of his former employer may have been funneled through his schooling at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, but the emotion he was feeling was pure anger. Positioned on location, he sketched the landscape, scarred with the barren rubble of where he once worked. Telephone lines. Crumbling cement. Thatchy, yellow grass. He heard old Hank Williams songs in his head as he worked. Pavement. He began the initial sketches for "Ball and Chain" in 2009 and finished it in 2012.

Lost Highway

His egg tempera "Ball and Chain" is part of a 21-piece contribution he's making to "Lost Highway 41: Revisited Blues," now at the Street Road Gallery in Cochranville. In addition to Harris' work, artists Egidija Ciricaite, Thomas Sowden and Danny Aldred are represented. His current work was also displayed at the Stroud Water Research Center in Toughkenamon.     

"For 15 years, I called this place home, and now, I was there as an artist," Harris said. "There's something about being able to get out one's frustrations, about being let go after the 15 years I'd put into the business. Happy art can be a little bit too sweet.  It may have its spot in places, but I want to be more contemplative artist. A happy feeling goes away too quickly. The release of anger and frustration lasts longer in art. Everything in that painting tied itself together with what was going on inside me during that time."

Harris's second painting in the exhibition is called "The Misanthrope," named for a painting by the 16th-century artist Pieter Bruegel. In the painting, a heavy-set and black-bearded young man wearing a black Hank Williams T-shirt walks on the side of Route 41. Behind him are the stark images of a barren highway -- a crumbling gas station, trash and an ominous sky. Harris said the inspiration for the painting came from meeting a young man named Derek, who said he was in a band called Misanthropy.   

"The misanthropic idea appealed to me, because everyone, at one time or another, feels as if the world is against them," he said. "Here you are doing your best, and there's push back everywhere, and you throw your hands up and say that you're sick of it."

With their Hopper-like starkness, both "Ball and Chain" and "The Misanthrope" depict Route 41 as a lost highway, in keeping with the theme of the Street Road exhibit. But Harris applies the term "lost" not to the highway, but to what it may become. 

"White Clay Point would truly be the definition of 'lost,'" Harris said. "It would look like the Exton Town Square or any other mall that advertisied itself as a town center, which really is nothing more than a bunch of stores linked together with some benches."

Harris, who is now the co-owner of a landscape, construction and masonry company, does not define his talents as an artist through the prism of the area where he has lived all his life. In an area full of artists who are content to depict the beauty of the landscape in their paintings, Harris looks at his work as a running commentary, much like the narrative in a novel, divided according to chapters. 

"My paintings are paintings of strength, of weakness, of a universal idea," he said. "If you paint a pretty picture of Chester County, it might be a big hit at a local art asociation, but what's that going to say to someone who is not from the area? If there is something deeper to grab onto, then it becomes art. 

"As an artist, you have a responsibility to make your art with integrity and honesty,” he said. “I feel I'm putting things down that are real things and not projected ones, and not what I think people would want to see. I want to be able to give people that same sense of the honesty, even though our interpretation of the art may be different.”

To see more, visit www.gwh2.com.


To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@chestercounty.com.


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline



harris art courtesy art ball and chain by gerald harris gerald harris


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/09/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    05/10/2016
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    Practice reading to a certified therapy dog. This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows stud...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Pilates Class: Get in Shape for Summer!

    05/11/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Sign up for FREE Pilates Class, back by popular demand! It's a 6 week session- attend them all or...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/11/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/11/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Garden After Dark

    05/11/2016
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    From Perseus and Hercules to Pegasus and Leo, the spring sky abounds with mesmerizing constellati...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Growing Native Orchids

    05/12/2016
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Whether you are a rank beginner or a master gardener, hardy native orchids can grow and thrive in...


  • Meditation

    05/12/2016
    05:30PM — 06:30PM

    Increased concentration, decreased anxiety, and a general feeling of well-being can be achieved t...


  • Meditation

    05/12/2016
    05:30PM — 06:30PM

    Increased concentration, decreased anxiety, and a general feeling of well-being can be achieved t...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/12/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Scattered throughout the nearby Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area are the remains of on...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • National Public Gardens Day

    05/06/2016
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Celebrate America's public gardens with a complimentary visit to Mt. Cuba Center! Relax in our ga...


  • National Public Gardens Day

    05/06/2016
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Celebrate America's public gardens with a complimentary visit to Mt. Cuba Center! Relax in our ga...


  • Join the fun at a Quarter Auction by Friends for Rescue & Pet Care in Newark on Friday May 6, 201...


  • Charlie Zahm is back presenting an evening of Civil War era music and history---this time it's Th...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Wildflower Walk

    05/07/2016
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    With Janet Ebert, Botanist Saturday, May 7th from 9:00AM-11:00AM Location: Bucktoe Creek Preser...


  • Aston E-Waste & Data Destruction Event

    05/07/2016
    09:00AM — 01:00PM

    ELECTRONIC ITEMS ACCEPTED— Almost anything with a plug! Hard drive & cell phone destruction $10...


  • Church Yard Sale

    05/07/2016
    09:00AM — 02:00PM

    As part of the East Goshen Township Community Day program, there will be a yard sale at UCCEG, 1...


  • Develop a personal photographic style and bring your technical and artistic skills to a new level...


  • Famous Chicken BBBQ

    05/07/2016
    01:30PM — 04:30PM

    CHICKEN BBQ, Saturday, May 7, 1:30-4:30 p.m., LANDENBERG CHURCH at 205 Landenberg Road, Landenbe...


  • Banding Together for Dravet

    05/07/2016
    07:00PM — 09:15PM

    Join us at the first ever Banding Together for Dravet on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Proceeds benef...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • 2016 Kacie's Cause MOTHER'S DAY WALK

    05/08/2016
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    We hope you will join us for the Third Annual Mother's Day Walk. This is a FAMILY EVENT (rain or ...


  • 2016 Kacie's Cause MOTHER'S DAY WALK

    05/08/2016
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    We hope you will join us for the Third Annual Mother's Day Walk. This is a FAMILY EVENT (rain or ...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/09/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    05/10/2016
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    Practice reading to a certified therapy dog. This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows stud...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Pilates Class: Get in Shape for Summer!

    05/11/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Sign up for FREE Pilates Class, back by popular demand! It's a 6 week session- attend them all or...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/11/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/11/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Garden After Dark

    05/11/2016
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    From Perseus and Hercules to Pegasus and Leo, the spring sky abounds with mesmerizing constellati...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Growing Native Orchids

    05/12/2016
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Whether you are a rank beginner or a master gardener, hardy native orchids can grow and thrive in...


  • Meditation

    05/12/2016
    05:30PM — 06:30PM

    Increased concentration, decreased anxiety, and a general feeling of well-being can be achieved t...


  • Meditation

    05/12/2016
    05:30PM — 06:30PM

    Increased concentration, decreased anxiety, and a general feeling of well-being can be achieved t...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/12/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Scattered throughout the nearby Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area are the remains of on...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Spring Art-In

    05/13/2016
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Join us for a day of art and let your creativity bloom while you draw, paint, or photograph Mt. C...


  • Spring Art-In

    05/13/2016
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Join us for a day of art and let your creativity bloom while you draw, paint, or photograph Mt. C...


  • DFVA Greenville Summer Art Show

    05/13/2016
    10:00AM — 07:00PM

    An impressive group of outstanding professional artists from the Brandywine Valley area will exhi...


  • Color In Your Bedroom

    05/13/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Come and discover how to balance your physical health and intimate relationships with the color a...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • WHITE CANE DAY

    05/14/2016
    09:00AM — 02:00PM

    LIONS ON THE LOOSE IN OXFORD THE OXFORD LIONS CLUB MEMBERS WILL BE ON 3RD STREET, REDNERS MA...


  • Elemental Ayurvedic Readings

    05/14/2016
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    The 2 hour consultation with Sarah Tomlinson directs your awareness to your personal strengths an...


  • Stateline Loop Run for Conservation

    05/14/2016
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    Join The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) on Saturday, May 14th for the annual ...


  • Sustainable Landscape Techniques

    05/14/2016
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    Make your landscape more ecologically sound by implementing a variety of sustainable gardening an...


  • DFVA Greenville Summer Art Show

    05/14/2016
    10:00AM — 07:00PM

    An impressive group of outstanding professional artists from the Brandywine Valley area will exhi...


  • The Copeland Legacy: Conserving Native Plants

    05/14/2016
    10:30AM — 12:30PM

    Join us for Community Read, a multi-institutional program designed to inspire reading, conversati...


  • Color For Stress Reduction

    05/14/2016
    03:00PM — 06:00PM

    In this unique three-hour workshop you will discover how the activity of Coloring Yantras brings ...


  • Celebrate the power of four paws with CPL! This canine chic celebration is filled with opportunit...


  • Concordia Voices Presents: New Heaven

    05/14/2016
    07:30PM — 09:00PM

    Concordia Choral Arts’ 2015-2016 Performance Year, titled THE NEW WORLD continues with our spring...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    05/15/2016
    01:00PM — 02:00PM

    Practice reading to a certified therapy dog. This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows stud...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    05/15/2016
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Don't miss this opportunity to visit and photograph four magnificent mid-Atlantic gardens at the ...


  • Photographing Gardens of the Brandywine Valley

    05/16/2016
    06:00AM — 04:30PM

    Don't miss this opportunity to visit and photograph four magnificent mid-Atlantic gardens at the ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/16/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Pilates Class: Get in Shape for Summer!

    05/16/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Sign up for FREE Pilates Class, back by popular demand! It's a 6 week session- attend them all or...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Carnival at St. Peter Parish in West Brandywine

    05/18/2016
    03:00PM — 10:00PM

    St. Peter Parish in West Brandywine, PA (Chester County) Wed. May 18-Sat. May 21. Event runs 5-1...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/18/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/18/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • The Allure of Native Azaleas

    05/19/2016
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Are you fascinated by native azaleas but aren't sure how to grow them? Steven Kristoph examines s...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/19/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Treehouse Workshop

    05/21/2016
    08:00AM

    Learn how to build a treehouse in the safest and most tree friendly way. Instructors include carp...


  • Grains of the World Dinner

    05/21/2016
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Newlin Grist Mill director Tony Shahan will host a special dining event featuring grains from acr...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    05/22/2016
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Quarter Auction

    05/22/2016
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Quarter Auction. There will also be Special Raffle Baskets and a 50/50. Visit www.curecancertoday...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    05/23/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    05/24/2016
    04:30PM — 05:30PM

    Practice reading to a certified therapy dog. This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows stud...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Leaf Imprinted Ceramic Vessel

    05/25/2016
    12:00PM — 04:00PM

    Create a nature-inspired vessel (vase or bowl) using foliage from our native trees as the design ...


  • Yoga

    05/25/2016
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Increase your range of motion, core body strength, and flexibility through the practice of yoga i...


  • Yoga

    05/25/2016
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Increase your range of motion, core body strength, and flexibility through the practice of yoga i...


  • Pajama Storytime

    05/25/2016
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Wednesdays at 6:30 PM - Join us for an evening of stories, songs, crafts, and fun to end your day...


  • Pro-Act's Family Education Program

    05/25/2016
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    When someone is addicted to drugs & alcohol, the diease affects the entire family. Each month PR...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Native Shrubs for Home Gardens

    05/26/2016
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Birds, insects, and a host of other fauna rely on the natural resources supplied by our native sh...


  • False Indigo - True Beauty

    05/26/2016
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    False indigo (Baptisia spp.) is a great plant for the sunny border and has a broad range of flowe...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    05/26/2016
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • The Galer Estate family invites you to join our Wine Club, a community of members who enjoy fine ...


  • Fitness Walks

    05/27/2016
    08:30AM — 09:30AM

    Enjoy the natural beauty of Mt. Cuba Center's gardens, forests, and meadows this spring and exper...


Chester County High School Sports