Pleasanton Weekly

Column - March 21, 2014

Scissors on St. John Street

by Jeb Bing

Nancy and Gary Harrington are at it again, contributing through their H.A.P.P.Y. philanthropic organization another outdoor art piece for Pleasanton. Last week, they unveiled their newest sculpture, called "Rock, Paper, Scissors," on the St. John Street side of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.

The sculpture, which the Harringtons found at a show in Loveland, Colo., has been controversial since a subcommittee of the Civic Arts Commission, named PASS (Public Art Selection Subcommittee), rejected it as suitable for outdoors because of the scissors.

The Harringtons were told that the scissors posed a safety hazard even though the blades are blunted. Sculptor Kevin Box said he could blunt the scissors on his bronze sculpture even further, but the Harringtons took the issue to the full Civic Arts Commission, which overruled its subcommittee and gave its approval.

At the unveiling, the Harringtons talked about the sculptor and his work. Box apprenticed at his uncle's design firm in Atlanta, spent three years studying art and art history at the School of Visual Arts in Savannah, Ga., and completed his degree at the school's main campus in New York City. He began his career in 1999 in a foundry, becoming proficient in bronze casting, and becoming a full-time artist in 2003 in Santa Fe, N.M., where he and his wife now live.

In a Palm Desert gallery, the Harringtons first chose an origami horse that Box had done in bronze and submitted it to the city of Pleasanton as a possible future sculpture. The PASS turned it down. Then last August, the Harringtons were at the annual Sculpture Festival in Loveland when they saw Box's latest work, the "Rock, Paper, Scissors" piece.

"What a wonderful piece that would be for our city," Nancy Harrington told art aficionados at last week's unveiling. "Everyone would relate to it and children, particularly, would love it." So the couple was dumbfounded by the subcommittee's rejection of the scissors, which are well-embedded into the bronze sculpture and can't be closed. Judging the applause at the unveiling, the public likes the Harringtons newest contribution.

Retired educators with lifelong passions for the arts, the Harringtons have been in the forefront of advocates and contributors for public art in Pleasanton, where they've lived since 1972.

It began in the summer of 2005 while vacationing in Sedona, Ariz., where they discovered the lifelike bronze sculpture of "Poppies" while visiting the Proctor Gallery. The sculpture of the tired-looking veteran now sits in front of the Veterans Memorial Building on Main Street. Later, they added "Monet's Bench," a bronze statue with the artist facing an easel just outside the Firehouse Arts Center.

As these contributions continued, the City Council asked the Harringtons to help with finding more artwork, leading the couple to develop a 10-year public art acquisition and installation plan. This funding cooperative, called H.A.P.P.Y., or "Another Harrington Art Partnership Piece for You", was responsible for the new Scissors bronze on St. John Street.

The Harringtons encourage individuals, businesses, corporations and organizations to join them in their effort to provide more public art to continue beautifying Pleasanton with the purchase of more art pieces. Those interested can contact them 846-9757 or by email to nancyrh1@sbcglobal.net.

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