Ron Hartgrove


Ron Hartgrove

At the age of eight, Ron Hartgrove was already working in the family jewelry business—his then creative, but disciplined, playground of sorts. Since then, the 1974 fine arts graduate has mastered the mix of business and art. Hartgrove leads two corporations, holds numerous lucrative patents in the jewelry business and has won several national and international awards for jewelry design. Four of his abstract paintings are part of The Menil Collection. Recently, he completed his first novel.

“When I wake up, I am driven and thrilled at the possibility of beginning a new work or continuing an existing one,” Hartgrove said.

He says the discipline to successfully focus his interest and his boundless creativity is something he learned at the University of St. Thomas.

“If you want to travel far, you must discipline yourself to do it,” he said.

Hartgrove’s story is a journey. The apprentice son of a jeweler, his route to the University of St. Thomas was a roundabout one.

Always drawn to art, but bored in high school, he hitchhiked and motorcycled through Europe for half a year, arriving at the Sir John Cass School of Art in London. However, the Vietnam War era had other plans for him. Following a tour of duty in the Air Force, a friend suggested he return to school to study art. By then, the young man was already professionally designing jewelry, had married and was a father to the first of his six children.

“My desire was, and still is, to push the limits of art, and St. Thomas’ outstanding program, seeded by the late Dominique DeMenil with some maverick art professors, was the perfect environment for me,” Hartgrove said. “Learning in an academic setting became exciting.”

“I was heavily invested there in art history, philosophy and studio painting and I continue to use all of it in my life and work. In particular, studying Dante’s ‘The Divine Comedy’ gave me a worldview with a moral code and a working map for it, which guides me even now.”

As within that inspired masterpiece, Hartgrove says God can be found hidden directly and indirectly in all of his paintings.

“I am a map maker,” he said. “It just happens to look like art.”

His intention is that his work inspires others to go within and remember who they really are. Continued great success in the jewelry design business allows him the freedom to explore his abstract art without fear.

“I unmoored my boat and steered it out so far that there is no land on the horizon, no references.”

And that’s the way this disciplined trailblazer of creativity likes it.

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