Bogdan Grom

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Bogdan Grom

Bogdan Grom
Born Ca 1918
Trieste, Italy
Died Nov. 2013
Cause of death Age
Nationality American
Occupation Artist
Home town Englewood, NJ
Known for Art
Partner Nina Woodrow
Children Dujna Pangerc (d.???), Peter Grom, of Slovenia

Bogdan Grom - Bogdan Grom, an Englewood artist who November 2013 at 95, defied classification. He worked prolifically in all mediums, from oils to charcoal, aluminum to bronze, tapestry to stained glass, paper to wood. He is represented in private and museum collections worldwide and earned acclaim for his most visible public art — sculptures and mobiles in America's earliest shopping malls.

"I could fight for my recognition through constantly doing the same thing all my life," he said in an interview when he was 91. "But that I would never accept."

Mr. Grom, a Slovenian, was born in Trieste, a seaport in northeastern Italy. He survived Fascist persecution and came to the United States in 1957. Within a decade, shopping center developers from Arizona to Long Island were commissioning him to beautify their indoor spaces.

His public work on a smaller scale can be seen throughout the metropolitan area. A chandelier at the Englewood library. Windows and stone carvings at an Armenian cathedral in Manhattan. A bronze at a branch library in Staten Island.

Cosmos and Meteorite

One of his most prominent North Jersey pieces sprang from a cold call to a real estate developer.

In the 1980s, the artist noticed an office building under construction at 505 Main St. in Hackensack.

"We were getting close to completing the building when I got a call from him," recalled Robert Hekemian Jr., president of Hekemian & Co. "I didn't know if he was kidding or what. He just said, 'Look, I see this beautiful building and would love to do something in the lobby because I love the look of the building so much.' He sounded very genuine and truly emotional about doing this, and I said, 'Let's meet.' "

Mr. Grom's installation in the building atrium is in two parts: Cosmos, a series of staggered, parallel metal panels with laser cut-outs suspended from the ceiling; and underneath, Meteorite, a stainless steel sculpture in a landscaped base.

Hekemian said when he looks at Mr. Grom's work, he thinks of "the pieces of life fitting together."

The executive and artist became close friends and once traveled together to New Mexico, a favorite destination of Mr. Grom's.

"We went into the desert, and he asked me to photograph the rock formations, and he was sketching them," Hekemian said. "He told me the rock formations inspired the panels of Cosmos."

The New Jersey State Museum in Trenton mounted a Bogdan Grom career retrospective in 1998. Noting his success producing sculptures for shopping malls and houses of worship, The New York Times reviewer described Mr. Grom as a "playfully experimental" artist who was nevertheless "something of an outsider to the gallery and museum circuit."

Thirteen years later came another retrospective, at the Belskie Museum of Art in Closter. Susan McTigue, whose mother took an art class from Mr. Grom decades earlier, curated the exhibition.

McTigue remembered Mr. Grom as a man both fascinating — "He had a wicked sense of humor, and if you could understand his accent, he'd have your on the floor laughing" — and easily fascinated.

"Everything from a flower bud to the design of a shadow on the ground would engage him artistically, and you never knew when those would inspire a sculpture, painting or even a children's book illustration," McTigue said. "He was so in love with this world."

Mosaics recovered

In May, four mosaics Mr. Grom created in the 1960s were installed in an atrium of Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Convention Center. The 5-by-7-foot panels, depicting such famous Philadelphia sights as City Hall and the Ben Franklin Bridge, originally hung in the elevators of the Architects Building. They were removed and put in storage when the building was renovated and converted to a hotel.

The mosaics were restored and given to the convention center. Mr. Grom was on hand for their unveiling. He told Philadelphia's Channel 3 that the mosaics were of great significance to him. As a starving artist, he had stopped by the Architects Building. "I was really looking for contacts with architects," he said. "I was looking for a job."

Mr. Grom was aware the mosaics had been removed from the Architects Building and "were somewhere in Philadelphia," said his life partner, Nina Woodrow.

"My goodness," she added, "he was so pleased, surprised and happy they were resurrected." [1]