If you’re strolling down East High Street in London in the coming weeks and happen to see the lights on inside the Gallery on High, you might peek in and get a glimpse of an artist at work. For the month of October, London resident Harry Croghan will be the featured artist at the London Visual Arts Guild’s (LVAG) gallery and, in addition to putting his finished works on display, he plans to continue his current works-in-progress live.
“I’m going to be painting. Every time it’s open, I’ll be here,” Croghan said. “It’ll be an ongoing thing for people to come in and look.” Croghan plans to have a diverse array of paintings from all across his life. He started sketching in pencil as early as four years old and put paint to canvas by age 10.
He has since retired but, at 73, spends his time teaching art around town, both in places like the Madison Correctional Institute and as a substitute teacher for local school districts. He also continues his painting constantly, some works taking three to four years, others taking three to four hours.
“There’s no question, it is part of who I am,” he said.
Croghan is originally from Columbus but moved to Madison County to raise his family, calling London home for nearly 36 years. Art and art education has been a fixture in his life from the start, having graduated from Georgetown College, a Baptist liberal arts college in Kentucky, where he studied art and psychology. From there, he worked as a commercial artist for 40 years with his own company, Croghan Designs, doing various works for clients such as the Schottenstein family and MI Homes.
“I did everything. Build models, signs, you name it,” he said. “I have about four books full of the things we did.” In his personal paintings, he has been driven by a variety of things but finds inspiration in religion and human emotion.
“There is very religious content to what I’m bringing here,” Croghan said. One of the paintings that will be on display is of Christ on the cross which he painted when he was 14. Religious imagery is also part of his more modern works.
“People have said, ‘you’ve gone backwards,’” he said. “And I say not really.” Although some of his paintings feature the religious themes, his style has changed. Some of the earlier works include a more formal, traditional style and feature classic color schemes. Some of the contemporary pieces are more in the abstract expressionism style; the colors have expanded and reveal the emotion in the work.
One painting, titled “Fragmentation,” has no particular form but suggests through color and composition, something breaking up. “That was me,” he said. “After my wife died, I just came apart.” Croghan’s wife, Mary, passed away in December of 2016.
He has also painted images which suggest more positive messages such as “Peace.” Some of the emotional experiences he has had were helped by the relief of creativity.
“This is more or less the theme of the show,” he said. “Out of darkness, hope springs eternal.”
Croghan’s opening is today, Friday, Oct. 6, from 5-8 p.m. At that time, there will be a “Meet the Artist” reception. His works will be on display at the Gallery on High Oct. 6-29 at 5 E. High Street.
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.