Ronald B. Colgrove

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Ronald Bertram Colgrove (American, 1930-2020) was a nationally acclaimed and award-winning realist artist, illustrator, graphic designer, educator, and inventor. He specialized in oil and acrylic paintings, watercolors, pen & ink drawings, portraits, genre scenes and graphic designs. Ron was born July 17, 1930, to Bertram Charles Colgrove (1903-1999) and Doris Anna (née Hoffman) Colgrove (1908-2001) who were married September 29, 1926. He had a younger brother, Kenneth Wayne “Ken” Colgrove (1935-2017). His father was a manufacturing technical engineer and the family resided at 38 Ludwig Avenue in West Seneca, NY. At an early age Ron showed an aptitude for drawing, so at age ten his parents gave him a present of twenty correspondence courses in cartooning. He graduated from West Seneca High School and studied art and engineering at The Albright Art School, which later was affiliated with the State University of New York at Buffalo, NY (SUNY). After graduating from the Albright in 1950, he served an apprenticeship for a sign company in Angola, NY, and followed by work for the Art Craft sign company doing lettering on their trucks. He progressed to outdoor signage for the Buffalo-based Kreiss Sign Company.

Ron served for eight years in the New York State Army National Guard Signal Corps 106th Field Artillery Battalion, achieving the rank of Sergeant First Class and received a National Guard Recruiting Medal. While serving, one of his friends introduced him to Ruth Marion (née Talbot) Colgrove (1930-1986) who had been teaching first grade at the time. The couple married on June 27, 1953, in the Kenmore Presbyterian Church, Kenmore, NY and honeymooned in the Pocono Mountains. They resided at 223 Cresthill in Tonawanda, NY and had four children to include: Colleen Marie Colgrove-Grotke (1956-) who was also artistic, Allison L. Colgrove-Coddington (1959-), Jennifer Lynn Colgrove-Martin (1962-) and James Ronald Colgrove (1963-). In addition to his fine art, Ron and Ruth invented and patented some children’s toys and educational games, several of which were sold through educational catalogs for use in schools. One of Ron’s favorites was called “African Safari”, which was played with cards on an illustrated board showing swamps to be avoided and rivers to be forded with attacking lions and boa constrictors.

A commercial artist by profession Ron worked for forty years as chief artist at the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory (CAL, later known as Calspan) a research and development company located on Genesee Street across from the Buffalo Niagara Airport in Cheektowaga, NY. He developed drawings and designs for laboratory publications as well as visuals for projects under study. Ron’s artwork was also regularly featured in CAL’s weekly house News Bulletin as cover designs, cartoons, and illustrations, as well in brochures and annual calendars which were sold to the public. In 1967, Ron shared a First Prize Award with co-worker, Jack Hanford for their sculpture titled, “Progression” at the “3rd Biennial Art from Industry Show”, which was held Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, NY.

Ron and the family eventually moved to the countryside on a twelve-acre tract located on Maple Hill Road South Wales NY, where he maintained a studio and received much inspiration for his subject matter. To all who knew him, Ron had an easy-going and creative personality, who fostered a love of the outdoors in his children. At their homestead the family built a barn for their horses and enjoyed dogsledding in the winter with their two beloved Siberian huskies.

In his early career, Ron predominantly sketched and created pen & ink landscapes and architectural drawings using a crow quill flexible dip pen. As his drawings accumulate, Ruth decided to enter several his drawings into the 1955 Erie County Fair and surprised him with the announcement that he had won second prize. With that beginning and his wife’s encouragement, it wasn’t long before Ron entered local exhibitions, winning prizes, and gaining notoriety. He also became a member in several local art societies to include: the Kenmore Art Society, the Buffalo Society of Artists, the Towne Art Guild of Tonawanda, and the East Aurora Art Society. In 1964, Ron expanded his exhibition territory and entered the well-established “Washington Square Outdoor Show” in Greenwich Village, NYC where he won first prize in Black & White a pen & ink drawings and then second prize that following year. Those early ink drawings brought him recognition as a fine artist and he continued to work in pen & ink until one of his patrons asked if he was color blind. Consequently, Ron decided expand his creative expression by using acrylic paint as well as silk-screening his pen & ink drawings, which he enhanced with watercolor.

In February 1966, Walter Meibohm Fine Arts held Ron’s first solo exhibit, which was also the first exhibit at the newly opened art gallery located in East Aurora, NY (now Meibohm Fine Arts). The show featured twenty-four works of art, and included pen & inks, felt pen drawings, acrylic watercolor, and oil/acrylic-vinyl copolymer paintings. That show was the start of a long and prosperous working relationship as well as friendship between Ron and his ‘sole agent’ Walter Meibohm. It helped to solidify Ron’s fine art reputation not only locally, but across the country and abroad. Over the course of his career, Ron exhibited in many group and solo shows throughout New York, Ohio and Central Florida. His work was found regularly in the annual Allentown Art Festival shows, the Western New York Shows at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, as well as at the annual East Aurora Outdoor & Art Society Shows in East Aurora, NY. The Buffalo Art Festival (later known as the Allentown Art Festival), was at the time was a casual event without structure, organization, or regulations. Ron remembered one such informality and stated, “We’d just lay our paintings out anywhere we could, we didn’t have the tents we have now. For many years I set up at the corner of North and Delaware and George Palmer was right across the street from me. I remember one year George had a beautiful painting that he’d just sold, and a stick came falling from the trees, right through it. He had to repaint it.”[1] (Buffalo Spree magazine, Archives May/June 2003)

Ron’s most popular pen & ink drawings were his series of four European castles which he made into signed & numbered limited editions. His high-quality reproductions featured both domestic and European architectural views, cityscapes, rural landscapes, New England views, as well as animals and marine scenes, and were collected by art lovers everywhere. He took commissions for renderings of clients’ homes, churches, and businesses. In 1982, Ron compiled and published a book of architectural renderings titled, Buffalo's Architectural Heritage: Buffalo’s Buildings with Historic Highlights, which featured twelve finely detailed pen & ink drawings (Published through Guerra Press, Buffalo, NY). The book sold well throughout the Western New York region with over 2,000 copies distributed and has also been used as reference in architectural classes at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Magazine articles about Ron’s creative pen & ink techniques and compositional skills are include in the October 1997 issue of The Artist's Magazine and the July 2004 issue of Drawing Board magazine.

In 1990, Ron married his second wife, Audrey Mary (née Farrance) Colgrove (c.1937-). After a forty-year career as chief artist at Calspan, Ron retired and moved to Central Florida with his wife and began devoting all his time to his art. In the Florida studio he worked mostly in oil, as well as acrylic and watercolor, and still took commissions for pen & ink drawings. Several times a year grandchildren gave him opportunities to paint their portraits. While residing in Florida, Ron became a member of and exhibit regularly with the local Mount Dora Art League, Eustis Art League, and the Leesburg Art Association, as well as in the Lake County Fair until about 2016. Not surprisingly, he continued to win several top prizes along the way. In his free time, he enjoyed playing tennis (well into his 80’s), as well as chess, table tennis, billiards and basketball. Ron passed away on December 9, 2020, in Mount Dora, FL. Ron’s artwork can be found in many private, public, and corporate collections throughout the United States, Canada, Spain, France, Venezuela and South America.

 

Chronology:

1930- July 17, born to Bertram Charles Colgrove and Doris Anna (née Hoffman) Colgrove. He had a younger brother, Kenneth Colgrove of Louisiana.

1948- Graduated from West Seneca High School, West Seneca, NY.

1950- June, Graduated from the Albright Art School, Buffalo, NY, and worked for a few years as a sign painter.

From 1953-Circa 1993- worked as chief artist at the Cornell Aeronautical Labs (CAL, later known as Calspan) a research and development company in Cheektowaga, NY.

1955- August, exhibited, group show (Second Prize for Drawing), Erie County Fair, Hamburg, NY.

1963- Summer, exhibited, group show (prize), Erie County Fair, Hamburg, NY. November, exhibited, group show (prize), “Kenmore Religious Arts Festival”, Kenmore, NY. December, exhibited, group show (First prize), “Towne Art Guild Christmas Art Show”, Boulevard Mall, Kenmore, NY. Exhibited, group show (First prize), Niagara Frontier Advertisers Association, Buffalo, NY.

1964- Spring, exhibited, group show (First Prize - Black & White), “New York City Washington Square Outdoor Show”, Greenwich Village, NYC. Fall, Spring, exhibited, group show (Second Prize), “New York City Washington Square Show”, Greenwich Village, NYC. Exhibited, group show (Prize: Best of Show), Chautauqua, NY. August 16, Ron gave a pen & ink demonstration at the “Outdoor Art Show of The Kenmore Art Society, Kenmore, NY. September 12-13, exhibited, group show, “Eighth Annual Clothesline Show”, his first in a series of pen & ink drawings titled “Austria, Halstad”, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY. September 19-20, exhibited, group show (Prize: W.G. Arthur Award), “Third Annual Orchard Park Quaker Arts Festival”, for his pen & ink sketches, Orchard Park, NY. October 12-17, exhibited, group show (Second prize), “Fall Show of the Kenmore Art Society”, “Back Home No. 2”, Boulevard Mall, Tonawanda, NY.

1965- April 25-May 16, exhibited, group show (Graphics Award), “Eighth Annual Spring Exhibition of the Kenmore Art Society”, Carlton House, Kenmore, NY. May 16, exhibited, group show (First Prize), “Towne Art Guild”, painting “Country Scene”, Delaware-Sheridan Savings Bank, Tonawanda, NY. Exhibited, group show (Best of Show), Chautauqua, NY. Exhibited, group show (First prize in Graphics), “13th Annual Bestor Plaza Art Festival”, Chautauqua, NY. Exhibited, group show (Second prize in Oil-Acrylic), Chautauqua, NY. Exhibited, group show (Second prize), “New York City Washington Square Outdoor Show”, Greenwich Village, NYC. Exhibited, group show (Atlantic City Boardwalk Show Award), Atlantic City, NJ, 1965.

1966- January 16-February 6, exhibited, group show, “Buffalo Society of Artists”, Ron’s painting of the historic “Gail House, Wales, NY” shown, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. February 13-26, exhibited, his first solo show, “Ron Colgrove”, 24 works shown to include pen & ink drawings, felt pen, acrylic-watercolor, and oil/acrylic-vinyl copolymer paintings, and the very first exhibit at the newly opened Walter Meibohm Fine Arts gallery (now Meibohm Fine Arts), East Aurora, NY. April 20-May 13, exhibited, group show (First prize in Oils), “Ninth Annual Spring Exhibit of the Kenmore Art Society”, for the painting “Potter’s Place”, Kenmore, NY. May, exhibited, group show (Best of Show), “Fourth Annual Exhibit of the Towne Art Guild”, for the painting “Potter’s Place”, Delaware-Sheridan Savings Bank, Tonawanda, NY. September 10-11, group show, “Gallery Show”, Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY. November 7-December 11, juried group show, “30th Annual Western New York Exhibition”, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, group show, Butler Institute of Art, Youngstown, OH. Exhibited, group show (First Prize), “14th Annual Bestor Plaza Art Festival”, Chautauqua, NY.

1967- May, exhibited, group show, “Tenth Annual Spring Exhibit of the Kenmore Art Society”, the ink drawing “The Old Mill” and the painting “End of Day” shown, Carlton House, Kenmore, NY. April 15-30, exhibited, group show, Buffalo Society of Artists, for the acrylic painting “Unending Chores”, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. July 28-August 4, exhibited, group show (First prize), “Third Biennial Art from Industry Show”, for the sculpture “Progression” made with Jack Hanford from Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, NY. Summer, exhibited, group juried show (People’s Choice Award), “Tenth Annual Chautauqua National Jury Show: Chautauqua Exhibition of American Art”, paintings “End of Day” and “Potter’s Place” respectively, Chautauqua, NY. August 4-20, exhibited, solo show, in the Members’ Gallery of the Chautauqua Art Association Galleries, Chautauqua, NY. August, exhibited, group show (First & Third prizes), “15th Annual Bestor Plaza Art Festival”, First prize was for the painting “Spring”, Chautauqua, NY. November 5-18, exhibited, solo show, “Ron Colgrove”, 27 works shown to include pen & ink drawings, felt pen, acrylic-watercolor and oil/acrylic-vinyl copolymer paintings, Walter Meibohm Fine Arts gallery, East Aurora, NY. Exhibited, group show (First prize in Oils & Second prize in Black & White), Bestor Plaza Show, Chautauqua, NY. Exhibited, group show, paintings “Spring” and “Unending Chores”, Butler Institute of Art, Youngstown, OH.

1968- April 21-May 4, Exhibited, group show, “73rd Annual Exhibition of the Buffalo Society of Artists”, Junior league gallery, Buffalo, NY. Exhibited, group show (Drosberg Award), Buffalo Society of Artists Show, acrylic painting “Root Cellar”, Buffalo, NY. August 7-20, exhibited, solo show, “Ron Colgrove”, 23 drawings & 21 paintings shown, Chautauqua Art Association Galleries, Chautauqua, NY. Exhibited, group show (First prize), Kenmore Art Society, painting “Kummer’s Wagon Barn”, Kenmore, NY. June 22-23, exhibited, group show (First prize in Landscapes), 16th Annual Outdoor Show of the East Aurora Art Society”, Hamlin Park, East Aurora, NY.

1969- June 29-July 20, exhibited, group juried show (People’s Choice Award), “12th Annual Chautauqua National Jury Show: Chautauqua Exhibition of American Art”, for the acrylic painting “Fisher’s Milk House”, Chautauqua, NY. September, exhibited, group show (First prize in Oil Landscapes), “East Aurora Art Festival”, East Aurora, NY. 

1970- February 28-March 27, exhibited, group show, “75th Annual exhibition of the Buffalo Society of Artists”, Ron’s acrylic painting “Country Solitude”, Burchfield Center at Buffalo State College (Now the Burchfield-Penney Art Center), Buffalo, NY. April 19-May 2, exhibited, solo show, 29 works, Walter Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.

1972- March 25-April 23, exhibited, group show, “77th Annual exhibition of the Buffalo Society of Artists”, Ron’s acrylic painting “Tober’s Tree” shown, Burchfield Center at Buffalo State College (now the Burchfield-Penney Art Center), Buffalo, NY. September 11-12, exhibited, group show, “Summer Street Courtyard Art Exhibit”, Buffalo, NY.

1973- July, exhibited, group show, seven artists’ work shown, Calspan (formerly Cornell Aeronautical Laboratories), exhibited, solo show, 21 acrylics & oil paintings, 15 ink drawings and 5 watercolors, Prozeralik Fine Arts Gallery, Virginia Beach, VA.

1976- February 9-March 13, exhibited, solo show, “Ron Colgrove”, 15 paintings The Western New York Savings Bank, East Aurora, NY.

1980- June, exhibited, solo show, “Ron Colgrove”, 10 paintings Marine Midland Bank, East Aurora, NY.

1982- February 7-March 7, exhibited, group show, “77th Annual exhibition of the Buffalo Society of Artists”, “Apple Tree” Burchfield Center at Buffalo State College (now the Burchfield-Penney Art Center), Buffalo, NY. Through Guerra Press, Buffalo, NY published book titled, Buffalo's Architectural Heritage: Buffalo’s Buildings with Historic Highlights. It  featured twelve finely detailed pen & ink drawings which have been used as reference in architectural classes at the State University of New York at Buffalo. June, exhibited, groups how (Second prize of $100), “Allentown Art Festival”, Allentown Village Society, Inc., Buffalo, NY. June, exhibited, group show (First prize in Watercolor/Drawings), Art and Craft Show, Kenmore, NY.

1986- September 21, wife Ruth passed away in Buffalo General Hospital, Buffalo, NY.

1990- married Audrey M. (née Farrance) Colgrove.

Circa 1993- retired from Calspan (formerly the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory) after a forty-year career as chief artist with the company.

1997- January 18-March 15, exhibited, group show, “The Aurora Seven”, Art Walk Gallery, Hamlin Hall, Aurora Park Healthcare Center, East Aurora, NY.

1999- August 31, father Bertram passed away.

2001- August 18, mother Doris passed away.

From 2005-2020- relocated to in Mount Dora, FL

2007- March 30-April 1, exhibited, group show (Award of Distinction), “Mount Dora Art League Annual Spring Show”, Donnelly Park Building, Mount Dora, FL. Fall, exhibited, group show (Award of Achievement), “Annual Members’ Fall Show”, Leesburg Art Association, Leesburg, FL.

2008- February, exhibited, group show “Eustis Art League’s Annual Art Show”, Eustis, FL.

2009- January 31-February 1, exhibited, group show (First & Second Place), “Eustis Art League’s Annual Art Show”, oil painting "Red Canoe" and second place for his oil painting "Harpers Mill", Eustis, FL. Exhibited, group show (Best of Show), “Leesburg Art Association’s Annual Exhibition”, “Annecy, France”, Leesburg, FL.

2010- exhibited, solo show, Olivia’s Coffeehouse & Bistro, 113 N. Bay Street, Mount Dora, FL.

2012- April, exhibited, group show (Second Place), Lake County Fair Exhibit, Eustis, FL.

2013- April, exhibited, group show (First Place), Lake County Fair Exhibit, Eustis, FL.

2014- April, exhibited, group show (First Place for Drawings), Lake County Fair Exhibit, Eustis, FL. October 24-26, exhibited, group show (First Blue-Ribbon Prize), “The First Waterman Village Art-Ober Fest”, for three of his works, Mount Dora, FL.

2016- April, exhibited, group show (First Place in Oils), Lake County Fair Exhibit, Eustis, FL.

2017- April 19, brother Kenneth passed away in Haughton, Bossier Parish, LA.

2020- December 9, Ron passed away in Mount Dora, FL.

 

Memberships & Associations: The Buffalo Society of Artists, Buffalo, NY; East Aurora Art Society, East Aurora, NY; Kenmore Art Society, Kenmore, NY; Towne Art Guild of Tonawanda, NY; The Mount Dora Art League, Mount Dora, FL; Eustis Art League, Eustis, FL; and the Tangerine Improvement Society, Tangerine, FL. 

Exhibits/Other: Exhibited regularly at the Butler Institute of Art, Youngstown, OH; Exhibited regularly at the Western New York Shows, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Exhibited regularly at the Annual East Aurora Outdoor & Art Society Shows, East Aurora, NY; Kenmore Art Show, Carlton House Nursing Home, three works shown of felt pen and two acrylics, “Fishing Boats”, “Frost’s Reflection”, and “Potter’s Place” respectively, Kenmore, NY; and exhibited regularly at the “Allentown Art Festival”, Allentown Village Society, Inc., Buffalo, NY.

Public & Private Collections: University at Buffalo Archival & Manuscript Collections, “Ron Colgrove Drawing of Crosby Hall and Jacobs Center: Item – Map Case 6.4”, 1987, Buffalo , NY; Exhibition Catalogs at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY; United States, Canada, Spain, France, Venezuela and South America.

Self-Published Books: Buffalo's Architectural Heritage: Buffalo’s Buildings with Historic Highlights. Guerra Press, Buffalo, NY, 1982.

Publications: Schneider Cartoon Apperception Test, illustrated by Ron Colgrove, 20pgs, 1977; Article on pen & ink technique, The Artist's Magazine, October Issue, 1997; Article on pen & ink technique, Drawing Board magazine, July Issue, 2004; Coffee table book, Lake & Sumter Counties: Florida's Heartland, with illustrations Ron Colgrove and two other artists, Herman Yokers and Donna Tweedle; and included his biography titled, “Ron Colgrove: Masterful Work In Motion”, page 13, back cover artwork also designed by Ronald Colgrove, 2009.

(Written, compiled & rewritten in parts by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY 14052, meibohmfinearts.com, Sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)

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