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Self-styled monarch Harley selected
the works of Bay Area artists for "New Ceramic Horizons"
at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa
checked out one of a series of brilliantly collaged stamps
he created for Tristan, the post office in Terra Candella,
his tiny homegrown nation.
Forestville artist puts a stamp on his own world
He creates nation, post office, Santa Rosa show
© San Francisco Chronicle
Friday May 17, 2002
By Karen Pierce Gonzalez
Special to the Chronicle
International multimedia artist Harley who uses only his
first name has founded his own country. Hes named
himself monarch of Terra Candella (Land of Light), nestled safely
in the redwood groves of Forestville, and has even created a series
of brilliantly collaged stamps for Tristan, the countrys
post office, which sits atop an antique oak desk in his living
From there, Harley corresponds with others about the upcoming
Paradise Wood Sculpturegrove exhibition, which hes curator
of. It runs through January at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa
New Ceramic Creations an exploration of contemporary
works of clay, brings together the work of 10 Bay Area artists,
including Sonoma Countys Clara Lanyi, Inya Laskowski, Christian
Vincent and Penny Michel, whose monumental biomorphic (animal/human)
figures represent a distinct approach to the figural tradition.
Other artists include John Toki, Hedi-Katharina Ernst, Dharma
Strasser, Re-Cheng Tsang and Sarah Kotzamani, whose pieces reflect
a beauty in the Greek sense, said Harley.
Being a curator is a form of teaching said Harley,
who selected the outdoor works some of which are suspended
from trees to reflect his belief that art can be seen from
Overall, the show is a mix of eastern and western aesthetics,
said Harley, 61, an Indiana native who has been producing art
As a child, I was mesmerized by the process of making art,
noted Harley, who legally dropped his last name, Francis, while
in his 30s. Our name is one of the few things we own,
he said of his efforts to achieve individuality in a world
that pays lip service to the idea.
Having ones own country will do that too.
The desire for a country followed Harleys ability to merge
his boyhood passion for stamps with his drive to make art. He
established Tristan post office in 1975. It was based upon the
local post system that operated in the 19th century in areas of
the country that government post did not serve. Government mail
would be delivered to local posts that served their local communities.
His first stamp was issued for Valentines Day 1975. That
year, he had his first one-man show in New York, and for the occasion,
released the stamp through the United Nations Post Office.
In 1979, he founded Terra Candella and about a decade ago, joined
the International Council of Independent States, a nonpolitical
organization of about 12 countries who have established their
own postal systems. Some of them were founded by artists and others
by people with philatelic interests.
We have had applications from separatist groups, like the
people of Nagaland who are rebelling against, said Harley.
They think an affiliation with the council will lend legitimacy
to their claims of independence.
A graduate of fine arts from both Indiana University and Oberlin
College on Ohio, he has paintings, ceramics and collages in public
and private collections across the country, including the Getty
Foundation in Los Angeles and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
For Paradise Ridge Winery co-owner Dr. Walter Byck, Harleys
efforts combined with his experience as an artist will help put
Sonoma County on the cultural map.
Not only is Harleys own work very well-conceived,
he himself is very knowledgable and motivated. I know from other
shows he has curated that he can put together a sophisticated,
thoughtful show that has continuity and balance, said Byck,
a retired Sonoma County medical doctor.
Byck and his wife Marijke Byck-Hoenselaars, have been hosting
art exhibits on the winerys oak tree-studded grounds since
1996 in the hopes of creating a sculpture grove much like the
ones they have visited in Europe.
Its amazing that this small section of the world has
such a considerable number of qualified artists working on such
large scales, noted Byck, who is pleased with the 50 pieces
of art that will be installed over the winerys four-acre
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