Discover paintings and other pieces from Hollywood icons

Entrepreneur and art collector Glenn Harte had always entertained notions of running an art gallery when, serendipitously, the entertainment world came calling.

Harte had just partnered with Hawaii artist Lori Higgins when the widow of actor and artist Anthony Quinn called on Harte to ask if he would consider representing her late husband’s art legacy. His answer was yes.

Three years after opening the first Higgins Harte International Galleries in Lahaina, Maui – there are two in Waikiki as well – Harte counts Academy Award-winning and nominated actors Tony Curtis, Anthony Hopkins and Burt Young on his growing roster of celebrity artists.

Their artworks are shown alongside pieces by Hawaii artists, as well as original lithographs, etchings, engravings and drawings by such major Western artists as Rembrandt, Renoir, Picasso, Chagall, Miro and Cassatt.

Celebrity artists possess a curiosity factor that draws those more accustomed to names in art history books than film credits, and most are surprised to discover their talents on display in another kind of venue.

The idea of dual talents doesn’t surprise Harte after getting to know the actors.

“Creativity tends to run a straight line,” he says. “How many times do we find people who start in show business who are also great musicians, great painters, who go on to have tremendous writing careers, directing and producing careers? All these things are tied together, and it seems they see no difference between one creative form and another.

“Creative people have many things in common in the same way great business people have many things in common.”

Harte says there’s a misconception that celebrities are so in love with themselves that they believe all their work is great enough to be shown. He says such criticism is unjustified.

“It’s not about that at all. It’s really about an expression, and they just can’t stop creating,” he says. “One of the interesting things that Tony Curtis told me was that in the ’40s and ’50s, actors would go out to the back lot on film breaks to paint. There’d be four or five or six all painting together, encouraging each other. Frank Sinatra painted; Tony Bennett painted. Today, Sylvester Stallone and Johnny Depp paint.”

He says many are quite shy about showing their art, and it took him a year to convince Anthony Hopkins to show his work, which consists of character studies for his roles in film, and landscape paintings on photographic paper.

While there is no doubt that the work of artists annointed by New York’s elite art establishments will hold up over time, the world of celebrity artists is somewhat new, making it difficult to gauge how their work might also hold up over time.

But among the universal rules of buying art is considering the recognition value of the artist involved. “Celebrities have that already,” Harte says. “If you have a choice between choosing a painting of equal subject, equal technique by Frank Sinatra or an unknown artist, the obvious choice is Sinatra.”

Work by Anthony Quinn has continued to appreciate in value since his death in 2001, because of scarcity.

One other factor to consider is that celebrities’ show-business salaries allow them to spare no expense when it comes to art-making.

“They don’t care what it costs in production techniques, materials, framing. Anthony Quinn would ship the best marble from Italy to America for his sculptures,” Harte says. “It’s really not about the money – it’s for love.”

Harte is planning a number of events on Maui and Oahu in 2009 in conjunction with the artists or their families. Tentatively scheduled are shows by Burt Young in April, a weekend with Anthony Quinn’s widow, Katherine Quinn, in June or July and a September show with Anthony Hopkins.

Higgins Harte International Galleries
844 Front St., Lahaina
661-4439

2250 Kalakaua Ave. Suite 207
Call (808) 923-0021

2270 Kalakaua Ave.
Call (808) 923-0005