Jeweler. Painter. Art Advocate.

The role of Questa artist Roger Harrington has taken some curious twists and turns

Posted 5/8/19

Fortunately for lovers of jewelry and painting, the remarkable breadth of the artistic accomplishments of Roger Harrington are visible year-round at Art Questa, a gallery that also showcases the …

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Jeweler. Painter. Art Advocate.

The role of Questa artist Roger Harrington has taken some curious twists and turns

Posted

Fortunately for lovers of jewelry and painting, the remarkable breadth of the artistic accomplishments of Roger Harrington are visible year-round at Art Questa, a gallery that also showcases the pottery of his wife, Sandra Harrington. Oil paintings and acrylics line the walls next to the pottery shelves, watercolors are in a nearby bin and Harrington's silver jewelry sparkles in display cases.

Harrington refers to his jewelry as art jewelry, and certainly there is a painterly sense to it. Take, for example, the large pendant featuring a piece of crazy lace agate (pictured). The delicate swirls of red-orange and brown in the stone are mirrored in the setting Harrington designed. This approach to jewelry is not surprising given Harrington's background.

As a boy growing up in rural New York, Harrington said he passed the stormy and wintry days drawing cartoons of the natural world in which he loved to play. His mother and some of his siblings also pursued the visual arts. Harrington followed the art courses of junior high and high school with a college degree in painting and sculpture. A welded iron piece of Harrington's was installed at his alma mater for many years.

Although Harrington has enjoyed, as he says, modest success in the art world, winning competitions and participating in invitational shows, his life has been comprised of a dance alternating between art and employment in the field of electronics. In the armed services, Harrington learned electronic and communication technology and he sometimes relied on this skill afterwards. He quickly points out, however, "Art, of course, is my love and life's work."

Living in North Carolina for 14 years, Harrington began the art-expanding and art-promoting activities which have characterized his life since. Polishing jewelry in a shop there, Harrington soon mastered fabricating and forging skills. Before long, with his artistic sense, 25 percent of the company's designs were Harrington's and eventually he began his own shop. Painting and advancement of the fine arts proved foremost, though. Harrington joined the North Carolina Watercolor Society and participated in gallery shows. Both traditional and alternative arts received his energy. Harrington helped found a large fine art gallery and also, as an art advocate, encouraged an alternative gallery.

Harrington moved to Santa Fe in the 1980s and then worked in education in Hawaii, but Northern New Mexico called him back. And after a couple of years in Taos, where he and his wife owned and operated the gallery Metaform, the couple settled in Questa, where Art Questa has become a not-to-miss stop on the Questa Studio Tour.

Harrington has explored plein air painting since his move to Questa about 10 years ago, and although landscapes featuring the Río Grande Gorge are prominent on the walls in the Questa gallery, the abstract expressionist art movement has heavily influenced his painting.

"I like to draw abstractly as well as realistically," he said. The aspect of abstract expressionism Harrington most enjoys is spontaneity. He is attracted to the "idea that the spontaneous line is more beautiful than the drawn line." This movement, according to Harrington, has its roots in existentialism. Harrington wants to see evidence of the painter in the painting. This may be brushstrokes; this may be drips. He is currently working on a series of abstracts in his home studio.

"Painting is essentially communication," Harrington points out. He seeks to express "those motifs or scenes that resonate with the person who's looking at it."

Perhaps it is this desire to communicate which inspires Harrington to blend the abstract with realism in his particular, existentially influenced technique. With watercolor, he is interested "in being more fluid," though he finds "the spontaneity of expression and application" to be a better fit for his abstract work.

Harrington finds inspiration in the paintings of other artists and in nature. "When I'm painting … there's a direct response to the scene or to nature itself that I am looking for, and that I try to communicate in my work."

In the Taos area, Harrington has shown in several galleries over time and he participated in the plein air show at Ocho in Questa. Harrington's effects here are also seen in his role as an art advocate. He is co-chair of the Questa Creative Council, a nonprofit organization which seeks to promote creative activity in the visual, performance and traditional arts, and the effects this organization has had are remarkable: the Wild Rivers Plein Air Festival, the Questa Studio Tour, street banners and welcome signs and NeoRio.

To view Harrington's work, both paintings and jewelry, visitors can stop by Art Questa on State Road 522 next to the laundromat in Questa.

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