Uncle Bob at age 88

Uncle Bob at age 88

Robert Leroy Hardgrove

Robert Leroy Hardgrove is a largely self-taught artist who lived in rural Central Illinois and is now back in New Jersey where he was born. He used to draw and paint at Illinois State University where he was well like and respected by the professors and students in the Art Department.

He had a one-man show at the Greenview Gallery in Chicago, showed at Chicago's Around The Coyote Art Festival in 1997, and 1998, and won numerous awards at McClean County Art Center in Bloomington, Ill. He has exhibited his drawings at the Norris Art Gallery in St. Charles, Ill., and has had a one-person show at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill. In Nov. 1998 he had a two-person show in the Phoenix Gallery in Bloomington, Ill. In January of 1999 he had a one-person show at Renewal Health Care Center in Glenview, Ill. From February of 1999 until March he will have three works in St. Charles' Norris Gallery Watercolor 99 juried exhibition. His work is represented in the Illinois State University Collection and in many other private collections in Central Illinois, Chicago, and Michigan. The Bloomington Pantagraph and Chicago Tribune have both written extensive articles praising his work.

"Uncle Bob" served in the Navy during World War II and also during the Korean Conflict. Trained as a typesetter in New York City, he settled with his wife, Peg, on the Illinois prairie over 40 years ago, where he worked as a printer for the Clinton newspaper until his retirement in 1994.

His art is a wild world of redheads, wood nymphs, purple and yellow dogs, skulls, ghosts, and flaming turtles. He also depicts the woods and fields he sees every day, and the seacoast which he visits every year or so. Sometimes his drawings poke gentle fun at town gossips or coffee-drinking buddies at Hardee's. Occasionally he lampoons his faculty friends at Illinois State University.

Despite the professors' efforts, he has remained remarkably resistant to academic conventions. When asked about his artistic influences he says: "I can't describe my style. I do some abstracting in my pictures. I'm a Modernist and an Expressionist, but, I guess, mostly I'm just me."