Two weeks ago, David Grove passed away. I was fortunate to call him a mentor and blessed to call him my friend. I had first discovered David 's work in the pages of Spectrum while looking for professional artist in the area to give me some feedback on my work. When I saw his book cover for David Keck's In the Eye of Heaven I just about flipped. Here was some young rookie doing the kind of art that I wanted to do. Little did I know this "young rookie" had 40 plus years under his belt and had been recently inducted into the Society of Illustrator's Hall of Fame.
I never forget the first day I met David one sunny San Francisco day in his North Beach house atop a hill on Union st. After hauling a couple 24x30 oil paintings up to his place I entered into a beautiful home with this gorgeous skylight in the middle of his studio. While the first hour of our meeting went fairly quiet as David probably was figuring out why some you illustrator would call him out of the blue to visit him, it quickly subsided once I spotted an original Earl Blossom illustration hanging on his wall. "You know sh*t that you're not supposed to " was his first reaction after I blurted my love for 50's illustration and illustration history. From then on I would visit once a semester to show him a new body of work. During one visit I was expressing my frustration with a new painting that I had finished. I must of spoke for almost a half hour about how I couldn't understand why my newest painting wasn't better than an older painting that I brought with me.David remained silent. Sitting down on his couch in defeat I blurted" I don't what happened , I just don't .." David all of a sudden got up and went over to the two paintings in question as said " You wanna know what happened?" I said "Yes , absolutely " preparing for David's advice to part the clouds of confusion. David turned to me and said "Ya F%^ked up Ray! ".
A few months later, David's health turned sour and he was hospitalized. Getting ready for my thesis show, I sent him a postcard along with a thank you note for the opening to show him the progress I made on my work. His first day out of bed he surprised me by coming to my opening. From those 2 hour conversations at his home and the many phone conversations we had after reconnecting last winter, David taught me the meaning of being a professional. The commitment to the craft , the patience ,determination, and honesty that one needed to do this for a living.
I cried after hearing of his death but quickly I remembered how lucky I was to have known someone like David Grove. I only hope I could even be half the artist he was and pay forward all he did for me. Thank you for everything David. I hope wherever you are you are having a cocktail with Bernie Fuchs and N.C.Wyeth.
The wonderful team at Sidebar Nation put together an amazing interview discussing his life and art. You can find that interview here
A book about David Grove's work was recently released by Norfolk Press You can purchase the book here
A celebration of David's' life and work will be held at Café Divine, 1600 Stockton Street, San Francisco CA on November 30, 2012 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Friends of San Francisco Animal Care and Control, or to the charity of your choice