Rick Gradone: Easy Q’s (and a True Story)
Curator’s Note: In early January, I was at the Goodwill Store in Cypress Park and suddenly came across a series of artworks that immediately drew me in. I instantly saw real purpose and talent and creativity within each piece.
I grabbed a cart and found 21 individual pieces total around the store, undoubtedly by the same creator, and tried to barter with the manager to sell them all to me for a flat price. She politely said no, so I reluctantly picked four favorites and purchased them on a Sunday afternoon.
I hung them that night and loved them more every day. Regretting not grabbing others, I went back to the store days later but all the work was gone.
As the weeks went on, many people stopped by my house and most everyone asked me about them, including someone I had just met who told me she too had bought some at the same store. She only wanted the frames, and thought she might still have the work.
We met at Antigua Coffee a week later, she was very cool and offered me her last painting, which I insisted I’d buy from her. I now owned five Rick Gradone originals, but still didn’t know anything about the man who created them.
In June, I reached out to strangers on Facebook and got the hit I was hoping for.
We’ve been talking over the email and chats, and months back I asked Rick’s blessing to hang his work in my Cabin №56 Gallery Winter Solstice show … the finale. He said yes, and and I couldn’t be more excited. We haven’t met in person yet, but I know we will someday.
Rick can’t make it to our show on December 23rd (he’s visiting his 95-year-old grandmother in New Jersey for the holidays, he’s got his priorities straight) but we’re going to send him lots of photos as soon as we hike out and we’re grateful he’s a part of this project. His paintings will be paired with music, it’s gonna be cool.
Until then, I feel truly touched by our connection over a mutual appreciation of Art. Not only what we hang on walls, but what we feel when we create, or we discover, or when we get the joy to share it. — J.B.
Q: What would you want people to experience through your work?
I think kids have an incredible sense of space and organization. I love that people look at work like this and think — “Oh I could do that.” I WANT THEM TO DO IT. It feels so good to sit down, free of judgement, and make art like this. I think everyone should.
Q: As you know, I came to own your art thru a little bit of fate. What did you think when I reached out to you about your paintings?
It was kind of heartbreaking and amazing at the same time. I was trying to make space in my life for new things and letting these pieces go, and that was difficult. It was so satisfying to know they fell into the hands of someone who loved them. It means a lot to me.
Q: Do you have any idea how they got to the Cypress Park Goodwill?
I know exactly how they ended up there. I donated them haha! I never imagined I would find out what happened to any of them much less get to show them again. This is an incredible gift.
Q: The work we’re showing was done by you in 2005, a long time ago now. Do you have any memories or associations with them that you recall? What were you up to or what was going on your life when you created them?
Yes!!!! That’s the crazy thing. I was making them for a show I was doing in New York but I had just moved to Los Angeles. I had very few friends and didn’t exactly know what I was doing here but I felt so much inspiration about the place and my home. Moving here I finally had PHYSICAL SPACE to make things and live. These pieces celebrate having that space like a child too.
Q: The ones I have are all named after different songs — what’s the connection between this art and that music?
Music is a visceral experience for me. I remember studying Kandinsky in school and being so inspired by his attempts to visualize what jazz sounded like to him. I am doing the same with these drawings. It also allows you to get totally out of your head. Like a drawing class where you focus so much on the object you forget who you are or anything else thats happening. Making these drawings felt like that to me listening to this music.
Q: What’s your current and favorite thing about Los Angeles?
I still love the space, mental and physical. It’s expansive here. There is room for things and thoughts and philosophies and new ideas. I never take it for granted.
Q: What are some of your memories or associations with Winter?
I grew up in New Jersey so winter is entirely about snow. The plows would dump these huge piles of snow onto the edge of our yard and my brother and I would dig igloos out of them. I always wanted to decorate them like a home and I would find a way to put carpets inside and art on the walls.
Q: If you could have one wish come true for 2018, what would it be?
I wish everyone would suddenly become conscious of the earth and how to take care of it. Priorities, interpersonal relationships, and the health of humanity would all evolve at that moment. Everything would change for the better.
But if I can’t get that I would be cool with finding a perfect chocolate chip cookie that somehow stimulates weight-loss and brings people back from the dead.
Q: Where can I can send people if they want to know more about you?