Artist seeks lost portrait of friends in Annapolis

April 03, 1995|By Gregory P. Kane | Gregory P. Kane,Sun Staff Writer

Richard H. Harryman doesn't know when he lost the portrait he painted of his old lacrosse teammate Bill Larash and Chick Levitt standing in front of the latter's delicatessen on Main Street in Annapolis.

He only knows he wants it back, and he's willing to pay to get it.

The portrait, an original oil painting, was on display at the State House. Mr. Harryman went to get it and some other paintings the afternoon of March 18 and remembers putting them in his van. He does not know how "City Slickers" -- his name for the portrait -- got lost.

"I usually lock my van, but it's possible I didn't," Mr. Harryman, 66, said Friday from his home in Severna Park.

The 18-by-24-inch color portrait is easy to recognize. Mr. Levitt stands in front of his restaurant, Chick & Ruth's Delly. To Mr. Levitt's left stands Bill Larash. Mr. Larash's wife, Skip, stands to Mr. Levitt's right.

Mr. Harryman, who makes his living selling original and limited edition prints of his work, painted the portrait 18 months to two years ago.

While he acknowledges that "City Slickers" has sentimental value -- both Mr. Larash and Mr. Levitt have since died -- he also said he wants the picture back because of its monetary value.

The white-haired, bespectacled Mr. Harryman, who sports a full mustache, is enough of a businessman not to disclose the full value of the portrait or the reward he is willing to pay. All he would say is that "it's negotiable."

A lifelong resident of Maryland, Mr. Harryman has been painting portraits for 40 years, practically since his graduation from the University of Maryland in 1953. He majored in fine art and minored in commercial art. He rode the bench on the Terrapin lacrosse team and watched Mr. Larash become an All-American goalie.

After graduation, he enlisted in the Air Force, where he served as a captain. He also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for two years, making paintings of aerial photographs. He's had his own gallery in Annapolis. In 1969, he founded the Maryland College of Art and Design in Silver Spring. He never stayed long enough in any one place to get a pension, which is why he doesn't consider himself retired.

His passion for art is such that he expects to be painting until the day he dies. Mr. Harryman works in his basement, which is lined with his paintings. An unfinished portrait of former Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker hangs there. Mr. Harryman said the senator's busy schedule kept him from finishing the work.

His portrait of the late Sen. Everett M. Dirksen of Illinois hangs in the U.S. Capitol. Mr. Harryman also has painted a portrait of Maryland's former U.S. Sen. Joseph D. Tydings, another lacrosse teammate from college.

He's not rich, but he has made a comfortable living from his work.

"I'm at the stage where I don't owe anybody anything," he said. "The kids [are out of the house]. The dog's dead, and the cat's about to die."

And the missing "City Slickers"?

All is not lost, said the artist. The portrait has been preserved in a limited edition print.

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