We are saddened to share that long-time gallery artist Gregory Grenon passed away on February 6, 2022. Gregory made Portland his artistic home from the late 1970s forward and was represented by Russo Lee Gallery and its predecessor The Laura Russo Gallery from 1995 to the present.
Gregory grew up in Detroit, Michigan where he studied at the Center for Creative Studies and began making art in Detroit’s Cass Corridor, a thriving center of the arts in the 1960s and ’70s. After a stint in Chicago, where he furthered his printmaking skills at Landfall Press, he moved to the Pacific Northwest in the late 1970s. Gregory became active in Portland’s burgeoning visual arts community, and also met fellow artist Mary Josephson. They later married, and he became a supportive stepfather to Aurora Josephson.
Gregory was among the most widely recognized Northwest artists of the late 20th century, known both regionally and nationally for his distinctive technique of painting on the reverse of glass, incorporating folk tradition with a contemporary subject matter, and frequently using surfaces repurposed from past uses. Old doors, windows, mirror frames, or car windshields, among other surfaces, came to new life with his unmistakable, expressive, and boldly colored figures.
Through these paintings, he sought to portray a wide range of the experiences and emotional strengths of his subjects, particularly of the women he featured. He spoke throughout his life of his love, respect, and admiration for women. Gregory was also passionate about baseball and loved the Detroit Tigers. A sellout 2003 exhibition featured baseball players. He titled it Baseball is Second Only To Death and was gratified by how well it was received.
In addition to showing his paintings in Portland, Gregory was also represented by galleries across the country, including Traver Gallery in Seattle. He received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission. His work is in numerous private and public collections including the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University, Salem, OR; the Portland Art Museum; the Seattle Art Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington; the Boise Art Museum in Idaho; and New York Public Library, New York City.
Gregory’s dedication to his artistic practice and his passion for painting will be much missed. His legacy will live on through his paintings.