My friend Jeff Hargreaves and I have been hanging around each other on and off for over 30 years…which makes me feel incredibly lucky and incredibly OLD. We have shared businesses, watched our kids grow up, now share a love for paintings. Jeff and his dear wife Ruthie live in Appleton Wisconsin and their families farmed within 60 miles or so of where they now reside. When I first started in business I remember looking at Jeff’s illustrations and aching with the sheer beauty of the way he handled lines, form and values. His drawing skills are superb. Now that he has four-plus decades of easel time under his belt, his sense of chroma, edges and just general paint handling have really come into their own and revealed Jeff’s internal sense of solidarity and wonderment. I find great joy in his wry humor and profound respect all wrapped in one delightful human being. The paintings simply radiate his values and understanding. A simple bowl translates into comfort food; a lathe raises a barn, a glove not only protects a hand, but allows firmness of grip and strength of heft. I love the accuracy through which he presents his objects as life lessons, as memories, as stories. I’ve shared a few of his paintings and corresponding stories: there are more on our web site. If you can, come in the gallery and view them first hand. Although digital technology is a wonder it cannot capture the beauty found in the depths these paintings.
It’s about creating beauty! It’s about showcasing reality in a beautiful and eloquent way. It’s about paint, color, brushstrokes, economy, harmony, and atmosphere. It’s a lifelong pursuit.
This collection of paintings ‘Workbenches’ is the result of an idea that I’ve been thinking about for several years. After my Dad past away, us boys split up his personal things. A lot of it was tools, all sorts of tools. Tools I remembering him using almost every weekend to keep the house running. Tools he would use to teach me things, to show me how to fix something. Why something would work and why it would not. Most of this stuff, these tools, he kept in the garage, that’s where he worked … that’s where his workbench was.
The very first paintings were collections of my Dad’s tools. Tools I saw him use. But he had tools I never saw him use, not once, but there they were in his garage or stored away somewhere. Tools, that for my Dad, seemed to be out of place. Later, I found out they were from his Dad and his father-in-law. Things they had and used during their careers and that he had inherited. Figuring out why and how these things ended up where they did, taught me a little about all of them. Stuff I didn’t know but am glad for the connection.