Russell V. Gran, a Duluth native best known for his acrylic paintings and role as the unofficial “patriarch” of the Washington Studios Artist Cooperative, died June 14 of an apparent heart attack. He was 81.
“Endlessly curious and driven to create, his curmudgeonly exterior was merely a facade for a wonderfully humorous, sensitive and loving being,” fellow artist and friend Eric Dubnicka wrote on Facebook.
Gran was born in Duluth on April 30, 1936. He graduated from Denfeld High School in 1954 and attained a master’s degree in studio arts from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Following a career at Travelers Insurance Co. in Hartford, Conn. and Blue Cross Blue Shield in Boston, Mass., he returned to Duluth. He lived at Washington Studios for more than two decades, producing paintings for numerous exhibitions.
The artist statement for Gran’s 2012 show Curmudgeon read:
With my paintings I offer a part of me as a family member in your home, office, museum, school or gallery. I believe in love, the beauty of the human body, my friends (who understand), music, movies, conversation, literature, color and line, sadness and humor. And want you to do so, too. In my paintings I hope to carry these loves to you. My work will not be shared with those who promote hate, self righteousness, ignorance and divisiveness.
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