Art in Pleasanton

Harringtons walk readers through 12 special works

Retired educators and philanthropists Nancy and Gary Harrington, who have contributed extensively to public art in Pleasanton, frequently lead public walks through the downtown area to see and talk about the many art works that have been donated to the community.

These range from the sculptures at the public library to the "Sing a Song of Sixpence" in Centennial Park.

The Harringtons' tour includes artwork outside the public library and Senior Center, in front of the Veterans Memorial Building and both inside and outside the Firehouse Arts Center, which includes the Harrington Art Gallery, and their donations and conceptual plans for the Veterans Memorial recently dedicated at the city's Pioneer Cemetery.

Much of the art is donated by the Harringtons through matching gifts in their "Another Harrington Art Partnership Project," which uses the acronym H.A.P.P.Y.

"Yak" (pictured) is a bronze sculpture created by Joseph Anthony McDonnell in 1967 and installed in Centennial Park in 1981. Privately funded by the Taubman Company, the piece was commissioned for Sun Valley Mall, which decided not to use it and sent it to Taubman's new Stoneridge Shopping Center, then under construction.

However, Stoneridge had no place to store it and offered it to the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council. "Yak" ended up being stored for 10 years until the Senior Center was built. Then it was placed in nearby Centennial Park in its strategic location.

The Harringtons said McDonnell sculpted two casts of "Yak," both cast in Italy and with the second one going to Woodfield Mall in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"Wind Song" (pictured) is a commissioned sculpture located off Sunol Boulevard near the Senior Center. Made of sealed and painted polychrome on a half-inch of plated steel, this is the second piece by Greg Hawthorne acquired in 2012 through the Harrington Art Partnership in Pleasanton.

The Hawthorne Gallery in Big Sur offers a varied kaleidoscope of creations that reflect the artist's moving, changing sensations that are an expression of his observations of people, current events and personal interests.

"We discovered this piece when we took a field trip with three city personnel to view several art pieces in the Big Sur area," Nancy Harrington said. "His home is like a huge art sculpture with separate buildings for different parts of the house."

"'Wind Song' caught our eyes and we're pleased the city approved this piece," she added. "It represents a sail surfer so the grass represents the sea. It is very different from other sculptures we've brought to the city. It has a little Picasso look about it."

"Special Friends" (pictured) is another Harrington art partnership piece. This life-size bronze sculpture of a boy holding his "friend" the frog is leaning against a tree near a crosswalk on Main Street adjacent to Civic Park.

Created by artist Carol Dunford-Jackman in 2011, she drew from her experience as a mother to achieve greater emotion in her work.

A native of Provo, Utah, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in fine art at Brigham Young University. After raising five children, she returned to BYU to study sculpture, finding that sculpture is her true love.

The Harringtons found this piece in Palm Desert at CODA Gallery. It's installed outside on Main Street where its only fault is that traffic often slows to look at the sculpture, "which is a good thing," Gary Harrington said.

"Vision Cubed" (pictured) sits at the entrance to the Pleasanton City Hall at 123 Main St. It was created and donated by the Pleasanton Leadership Academy Class of 2008-09, which is sponsored by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and the city of Pleasanton.

This bus station mural at Old Bernal Avenue near the library (pictured) is one of several located in Pleasanton. It was a collaboration between the city of Pleasanton, Livermore-Amador Valley Transportation Authority (Wheels) and the Pleasanton school district.

Painted by Caroline Field's art classes at Foothill High School, the artists were Chris Gomez, James Kim and Angie Son. Contributors to the design and painting were Caroline Kim, Nari Kim and Shay Narzekalski.

Additional assistance was provided by Amanda Frank, Jessica Huang, Alicia Jun, Dana Kim, Eric Kim, Stephanie Lowe, Will Lowenhardt, Pinhwa Su, Mina Shin, Chaitali Wagh, Stephanie Wu and Paayal Zaveri. It was dedicated on May 19, 2010.

"Dancing Girls" (pictured) was painted in 2010 by Sharon Costello. This well-known artwork is located on the back wall of the outdoors eating area in Gay 90's, a restaurant that occupies a building on Main Street built in 1864. The mural's faces of the dancing girls are taken from the women working at Gay 90's, including the owner's wife.

The mural also represents the prostitutes who worked upstairs in the building as part of Pleasanton's past. The cat is a stray who used to stay around the building looking for scraps of food. The stagecoach represents the Wells Fargo stagecoach which had its only stop in Pleasanton at this building. The driver of the stagecoach represents the ghosts of the building including the upstairs brothel's madam.

"Joyful Play" (pictured), installed in front of Chase Bank on Main Street, was carved in Zimbabwe from Serpentine stone by Dominic Benhura. It was privately funded through the Harrington's H.A.P.P.Y. co-op by John and Jane Loll and represents their children Maggie, Henry and Oliver at play.

Benhura sculpted these children from watching his own daughters play. Their faces are blank, but their body language suggests their youth and the simple joy of children.

"Rock, Paper, Scissors" (pictured) is a bronze sculpture at the St. John Street side of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, located at 777 Peters Ave. Created by Kevin Box of Santa Fe, N.M., it was installed in 2014. The Harringtons discovered the work at the annual Sculpture Festival in Loveland, Colo.

However, this piece has been quite controversial. Initially the PASS committee (a subcommittee of the Civic Arts Commission) turned it down, citing safety issues because of the scissors. However, the Arts Commission overruled PASS Committee and the Harringtons bought it, storing it for 16 months until the chamber site was selected.

"Comet" (pictured) is a sculpture of bronze and silver on pink granite located next to the rear entrance of the Firehouse.

Privately funded through another H.A.P.P.Y. effort in partnership with Leadership Class of 2012, this work by Max DeMoss plays with the muse of fragmentation of pieces in both bronze and inlaid silver, creating a line which the viewer's eye follows. DeMoss works daily in his own foundry where he lives near rural Hemet.

"It caught our eye because of the turquoise center of the platter and the fiery molten flame shooting off to the right," Nancy Harrington said. "It looks like a comet."

"Spiral Motion" (pictured), also at the Firehouse, is made of Patina rolled steel by Jon Seeman, who built his first welded steel sculpture at the age of 16. His artistic talent was encouraged by his father, an engineer, and his brother, who is also an artist.

Privately funded through H.A.P.P.Y. and the Loll family, it was installed in 2011. The Harringtons first saw this piece at the Laguna Beach Arts Festival.

"Dancers" (pictured) is a perfect fit for the Firehouse Arts Center. Made of cortens and brushed steel by artist Greg Hawthorne, the piece was acquired through a fund established by Nancy and Gary Harrington.

Also, "Firehouse Blue/Firehouse Red," the two marquees at the Firehouse Arts Center, were commissioned by world-renowned glass artist Martin Donlon for its opening in September 2010. Nancy and Gary Harrington donated what became a dramatic feature of the new Arts Center. The contemporary architectural glass rises 22 feet in the front and 30 feet in the back.

Donlon came to Pleasanton three times, once before the construction began to get a feel for the downtown area and the area where the Firehouse Arts Center would be constructed and the marquees would be located; once to share his models of the marquees so they could choose from the selection, and finally at the grand opening of the Firehouse.

The front marquee is done in warm colors for fire and the firehouse while the back marquee is done in cool colors for the park.

In addition to these art works, the city of Pleasanton has produced a public art brochure that shows locations, names and artists.

The Harringtons also are working on a public art book of all the public art in Pleasanton, including information about the artists and stories. The Museum on Main will handle the publishing and it will be offered at a nominal cost when published, which should be in the next few months.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

GE's re-organization reaches San Ramon digital headquarters
By Tim Hunt | 3 comments | 1,915 views

Sound and Fury over Vile and Slur-ry
By Tom Cushing | 72 comments | 1,128 views

New state housing requirements could affect Pleasanton
By Jeb Bing | 2 comments | 430 views