The Rural We: Ron Harrington
Hillsdale, New York resident Ron Harrington has been a TV commercial actor, print model, interior designer, bookkeeper and, along with his husband, Rick, a longtime member of the PantoLoons at the Ghent Playhouse. This weekend, he’ll reveal another of his talents in his first one-man show, “Works on Wood,” at the Old Chatham Country Store and Café from Aug. 25 through Oct. 10. Meet Ron at the opening reception on Saturday, Aug. 26 from 3–5 p.m.
I grew up on a farm in northern Illinois, and I was 24 when I moved to New York City in 1972. For about 15 years, I made my living doing commercials and print modeling. I did a lot of theater, as well, and worked with Time & Space. Linda and I go back a long way. Rick did all of the posters for her shows in the city when she was there.
My husband and I have had a place in north Hillsdale for 30 years, and I moved up here full time last year. We had a place on the Upper West Side and I was working for an energy brokerage firm half the week as a bookkeeper, but I’m retired now. Columbia County is just gorgeous; the Green River runs right through our backyard.
I have a studio in a double-car garage that I converted about 20 years ago. There’s a big pool table, so I shoot a rack of balls in the morning and then I cover it up and I work. I created a man cave because I wanted to save my nice 40-year relationship.
Rick was my inspiration. He’s also an artist, and he made a diptych in 1973 and I went “Jeez, I can do that!” His work is rather personalized, but I’ll grab a bunch of stuff and then that will be my limitation for that piece of art. For a while I was creating in shadowboxes using junk I found on the city streets. Now I’m creating life-size characters out of barn doors. We tore down an old barn garage, and I’ve been saving money by using that. In the city, if there was a car accident, I’d run out and get the big pieces of glass from the street. Recently, I took the caution tape they’d left from an accident right outside my studio. We like to recycle.
Now that I’m up here full time, it’s nice to have everything in one place. I figure I’ve sold about 100 pieces so far, so I’ve still got about 400. There are 18 in the show: some of the boards from the ‘90s, 5 wooden sculptures and a couple that go back 40 years. There are a lot of faces and people, and then some flying pigs and cows.
Rick and I were in the PantoLoons for 11 years, and we had a great time. It’s a spectacular group of people, including some very talented NYC transplants, and it was a really nice experience for us. I’ve always stayed busy and had lots of interests. I’m a Gemini and they do everything. I’m not afraid to start something new.