Published December 13, 2011
Volume 19, Number 12

Harrington Art Partnership Builds Legacy for Pleasanton  

Nancy and Gary Harrington are building a very special legacy for Pleasanton. Not only has the couple gifted the city with several first-class works of contemporary art, but their eponymous Harrington Art Partnership has created the infrastructure required to support a formalized public art program.

The first phase of their vision became reality several years ago with the installation of the “Poppies” sculpture by Stanley Proctor, in front of the remodeled Veterans Memorial Building. A visit to a gallery in Sedona, where the work was on display, inspired the couple to approach the city about donating the piece. An affirmative answer was all it took to get both parties thinking about additional projects.

The Harringtons' next donations embellished the Firehouse Arts Center. A pair of glass marquees by world-renowned architectural glass artist Martin Donlin graces the exterior, and “Monet's Bench,” a sculpture by Gary Price, sits in the outdoor plaza.

A total of four pieces were installed in 2011. “Spiral Motion III” by Jon Seeman and “Dancers” by Greg Hawthorne are both at the back of the Firehouse Center, while “Firehouse Crystal Bell” by Jack Storms now hangs in the lobby. Carol-Dunford Jackman’s “Special Friends,” installed just before Thanksgiving, is on the south side of Main Street at Civic Park.

Two more pieces are awaiting their final home, and several others are in the works.

Not content simply to play the donor role, the art-loving couple collaborated with city representatives and several artists to establish a formal process for acquiring public art, from funding and selecting the works to complying with all municipal regulations. Over the next decade, the Harrington Art Partnership will, in conjunction with other donors, purchase and install at least a dozen new pieces. The ultimate goal is the development of an art walk from the Firehouse southward through downtown to the Senior Center.

The Harringtons have a special motivation behind their venture. As long-time and now retired educators, they continue to seek to engage the minds of young people, this time with art as the vehicle. They describe their “hearts' mission” of exposing children to a varied public art collection as a means of “enabling them to witness the ways in which artists use their creativity, senses, emotions, and materials to express themselves.”

Art enlightens, inspires, and excites, producing a very personal reaction, they say. Looking for variety in their selections, they have proposed an assortment of media--sculpture, murals, fountains, and mosaics—that “people will ponder over—maybe trigger a memory or make them wonder what the artist might have been thinking. We want this interaction. That's what public art is about.”

The gratification the Harringtons felt from making their own gifts inspired them to welcome others into the partnership. “Individuals, businesses, corporations, and organizations” are invited to join their efforts.

One project awaiting a partner is the mural “Pioneer Founders” proposed for a prominent wall downtown. Set against a period backdrop, the mural clusters more than a dozen of Pleasanton's key historic figures inside the home of Phoebe Hearst, bringing local history to life. For more information about the partnership, call the Harringtons at (925) 846-9757 or email nancyrh1@sbcglobal.net.  


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