2015-04-16 / Front Page

Newport’s First Family of Art Honored

By Pat Blakeley


The Grosvenor family at one of their weekend en plein air outings. The family has been capturing images of the local landscape together for decades. Left: Dick Grosvenor The Grosvenor family at one of their weekend en plein air outings. The family has been capturing images of the local landscape together for decades. Left: Dick Grosvenor Works of the Grosvenor clan, headed by legendary patriarch Richard (Dick) Grosvenor, will be featured in “The Art of Family Gatherings” at St. George’s School. The display not only showcases works by Newport’s most famous painter, it also includes paintings by three of his favorite students, his children Rick, John and Holly.

The exhibition opens at the Hunter Gallery April 16 and runs until mid-May. A reception with the artists will be held 6:30-7:30 p.m. opening day.

Much beloved at St. George's, where he taught art, architecture and art history for 40 years, Dick Grosvenor inspired passion for en plein air painting in many. His interpretations of Narragansett Bay scenes are among his most wellknown and can be found across the country. He is pulled by the beauty of the water. “I keep going back because the seasons, the weather, and the light are always changing,” he said. “You have clouds, shadows, extreme fog, and light flashing off the water. It is never the same."

For many years while he served as department chair, the family lived on campus and they all became an integral part of the school community.

His love of the outdoors manifested itself in many arenas. In addition to organizing the schoolwide Kite Day and coaching the sailing team, Grosvenor was fondly remembered in the 1969 St. George’s Lance yearbook dedicated to him as “one of those rare men who is always ready with a smile and an encouraging word.” His ability to spark students’ interest was cited as “unequaled.”

He instilled his enthusiasm for the natural world and art in his four children when they were young – and paints weekly with the three who reside in the area. Many of the pieces in the show were created by the siblings at their regular weekend sessions. On Saturday and Sunday mornings the family usually gathers for a few hours of painting, either on site in a van at a favorite local spot or in the studio, well-fueled by coffee, doughnuts and congenial conversation.

Although Dick’s wife, Margot, dabbles, she does not consider herself a painter, at least not at the level of the rest of her family; she is however, the tribe’s biggest fan. She is “a very proud mother,” chuckles daughter Holly.

In likening art to time travel, son John reveals, “I paint Newport and its storied environs as places of promise and beauty. The finished canvas preserves the exact moment when sunlight reflects on a gaff rigged schooner sailing by Castle Hill or when snow glistens on an outcropping at Sachuest Point.”

Holly echoes these thoughts on her use of both watercolor and oil. “These studies of sunlight begin with an initial watercolor sketch, always done on site to capture the unique color and light effect of a particular moment. As an oil on canvas, the work is influenced by the initial freshness of the watercolor sketch and through adjustment in the intensity of color, spatial illusion and quality of light. The technique results in a more intentional and dramatic interpretation of the subject.”

Clearly, the Grosvenor apples didn't fall far from the tree.

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