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Wire and Light Legerdemain: Richard Harrington’s unique art at MCLA Gallery 51, North Adams, Massachusetts

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Richard Harrington, Absorbed in one of his Works.
Richard Harrington, Absorbed in one of his Works.

Any resemblance to the pedantry of “Platonic geometric solids” afflicted upon us in high-school bears no resemblance to the recent exhibit of Richard Harrington’s art at Gallery 51.  Mr. Harrington has been creating in and obsessing with a singular project that continues to astonish, ravish, and delight the many that flock to see his fascinating work.

When the wire mesh shapes are viewed from different aspects, what you sense of a central subject miraculously altered by successive illumination from rectangles to hexagons, pentagons, and shapes with nomenclatures too esoteric for a review.  But there are indeed subjects to each work accompanied by a periphery of characters seemingly growing or gushing outwards, lending a certain playfulness to the piece under observation.

The mysteries of these works deepen when illuminated with a spectral light slit and allowed to traverse the physiognomy of the hard-metallic torsos.  Highlighting planar slices in motion, the intricacy of the subjects is revealed in a stunning sequence:  The outer edges are aglow in the red spectrum while the vacant centers are hinted in a pale bluish cool tint.

A family of shapes qualify as “snubbed,” in which the meshing comes and goes leaving geometric nothingnesses poking about.  At some point, I expect these works to gravitate on their own in some sort of quantum effect that perhaps, defying science, we can actually observe.

While this nothing but space, line, order and light, there is something strongly musical in Harrington’s art:  The poet Andrew Marvell suggested that “Music [is] the Mosaic of the Air.”  If that is so, then these wonderful and ingenious works convey the music of the polyhedral world to our senses.

Mr. Harrington himself has likened his wired compositions to “skeletal smoke.”  While this might suggest an ephemeral aspect, I’m glad his work continues to be on display in his hometown of North Adams, MA. and soon in Linz, Austria.  A few months ago, I saw a larger exhibit of his at MIT.  As mathematically complex and puzzling as these works are, they never fail to capture the attention of kids who tune in and perceive the simple melodic lines

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Seth Lachterman lives in Hudson, New York. While dividing his past academic career between music (composition and musicology) and mathematics, he has, over past three decades written original and critical works on the Arts. His essays have appeared in The Thomas Hardy Association Journal, English Literature in Transition, and poetry in The Raritan Quarterly. As a charter member and past president of the Berkshire Bach Society, he provided scholarly program notes for the Society’s concerts for over two decades. His Bach essays and reviews have been referenced in Wikipedia and have appeared in concerts at Ozawa Hall and the College of St. George, Windsor Castle.   A founding president emeritus of Walking The Dog Theatre of Hudson, New York, he has invented a new technology for insuring privacy in text messaging and for social networking. In 2012, he founded UThisMe, LLC (youthisme.com). to launch this new patented encryption technology which now assists the elderly and infirm who are home bound and require remote health monitoring. He is also on the board of directors of PS21. Seth writes regularly for Berkshire Review and New York Arts. When not listening to music, Seth Lachterman studies philosophy.

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