Sunday, April 26, 2015

Remembering Robert "Bob" Blue

The "Bob Blue Retrospective" opens this month at the North Shore Arts Association's Gordon Grant Gallery from May 7 through May 30. We hope you'll visit the exhibition and experience the breadth of Bob's talents and his love of Cape Ann through this collection of his art. His good humor, generosity and companionship are sorely missed by those who knew and loved him.

Robert G. "Bob" Blue


Bob Blue was born in Newton, MA on March 13, 1924. He received his formal training from the Vesper George School of Art in Boston and for 42 years he pursued a very successful commercial art career in industry.
During World War II, Bob worked at MIT's Draper Lab in Cambridge, an integral part of the team charged with pioneering and advancing the development of radar. For 28 years Bob worked as a lead illustrator in the publications department of Jackson & Moreland Engineers in Boston. He completed the very first illustrations of the groundbreaking Nautilus submarine in 1968. Later, Bob joined GTE's government communications systems and created scientific illustrations for the space program, for GTE's magazine advertisements and for technical journals such as the U.S. Army's Signal and the U.S. Navy's Sea Power magazines. In 1970, his illustration of the General Electric GE12 Turboshaft Jet Engine was on display at the 7th Annual Technical Art Exhibit at the Museum of Science, Boston. During his ten years illustrating for GTE's trade exhibitions, his full-color illustrations traveled around the world.
During these years, he had always found the time to paint landscape and seascapes, working in strong and vibrant colors that captured the essence of the scene. Nan Blue says of her husband, "He was always painting, even during the years when he was working full time as an illustrator. He would be working on a painting or a drawing from the moment he woke up, sometimes even while he was still in his pajamas! He had a sketch book with him wherever he went; when we would go to the market, Bob would pull out his sketch book, have it in his lap, working on a quick sketch while I did the shopping. He was thinking about art and painting all the time." She recalls, early in their marriage walking with Bob in Rockport one very snowy, wintry day, when "Bob stopped to knock on the door of Stanley Woodward's studio. Bob had never met Mr. Woodward, but greatly admired his work. Stanley graciously invited us inside, where Bob spent the afternoon with Mr. Woodward, just talking about painting."
Emile Gruppe set Bob up with the easel and paints best suited to plein air work, following a chance meeting between the two men at Cape Hedge Beach around 1954. That encounter began a long and memorable friendship between the two men; Bob and Emile painted together for over thirty years, until Gruppe's death in 1978. They shared a similar interest in subject matter as well, primarily seascape, the activity of harbors and docks, and when traveling to rural parts of Maine and Vermont, the villages and vast mountain vistas.
Bob was a well respected member of the Cape Ann arts community and enjoyed memorable friendships with the artists whom he mentored as well as those who worked alongside him as friends and painting partners. Ron Straka says of Bob, "I met Bob Blue through Pat Civale. Bob Blue was just the nicest guy you'd ever hope to meet. He was a very gentle person and a good friend." "An excellent painting partner", together he and Ron "shared a lot of laughter, but not a lot of idle chatter", both men being completely absorbed in the process of painting en plein air. "Bob was always willing to help if I needed help and openly shared any knowledge that he had." Ron credits Bob Blue for introducing him to Gruppe's palette and because "Bob was such a close friend of Emile Gruppe, and had painted with him for so long, Bob knew all of the best painting locations on Cape Ann and up in Jeffersonville, which saved us all a lot of time driving around!" Bob traveled with his painting partners to Vermont, often in the company of Ron Straka and Harold Kloongian, and would spend days on end painting the landscape and villages around Jeffersonville, VT.
Paul Ciaramitaro says of his friend, "I often think about Bob - I miss him. I feel fortunate to have known him. He was very kind to me. Bob was an excellent artist and a soft spoken man. More importantly, Bob was a generous, sharing, and giving man. He was a person that I could look up to and try to emulate. I wish he was still here."
In 2008, Bob died at age 84 in Rockport, Massachusetts and is survived by his wife, Nancy "Nan" Blue, who still lives at their home on Eden Road where she enjoys gardening and is active in the gardening club in Rockport.

1 comment:

Thank you for your comments and for visiting NSAA QuickstARTs!