Oswego councilor earns accolades for artwork

Erin Place

Most know Councilor Ed Harrington as a rough around the edges kind of guy who is usually at odds with various members of city government. There is a side to the councilor that most people do not know about, an artistic side that helped Harrington win two awards for his paintings at the New York State Fair.

The two paintings Harrington submitted were entitled “Palermo Landscape” and “Jorge.” Both of the pieces of art were painted with oil paints and had ornate frames surrounding the canvas. “Palmero Landscape” which, according to Harrington, was titled this “for lack of a better name,” took third place in the amateur division at the fair. There was a professional division as well. The other painting, “Jorge,” received honorable mention, also in the amateur division.

“Jorge” is a portrait of Harrington’s interpretation of what George Washington would have looked like if he had been Hispanic. Harrington said he painted this piece after the controversy that arose last year surrounding the release of a recording of the U.S. national anthem in Spanish. Harrington said that people were asking if the Hispanic version of “The Star Spangled Banner” was a disgrace to the United States and that the song enflamed people with a “go back to where you came from” attitude. Harrington decided to paint “Jorge” to comment on these thoughts and questions. “If we all went back to where we came from, the Indians would be the only ones living here,” Harrington said.

Harrington said that he has entered his paintings in the State Fair before and that it was only 11 years ago that he began painting. His artistic interest runs deep. Harrington graduated from the now defunct Oswego Catholic High School and received a regents diploma in art. After graduation, Harrington attended Mohawk Valley Community College and received a degree in advertising design. “For years I never did anything (with the degree). I always wanted to try oil painting,” Harrington said.

It was in 1995 that Harrington got his chance to try that kind of painting. According to Harrington he called into a radio station to answer a “name that song” contest and he won. With the $95 he won, Harrington decided to buy oil paints. About a year after buying the paints, Harrington began taking adult education classes and learned how to paint. After that, Harrington began taking lessons from local artist Norman Roth. According to Harrington, every Saturday, he, Roth and a few other people gather at Harrington’s house to paint.