Musings on Love and Hate, Life and Death, Trust and Betrayal

Artist’s Statement

Donald Gruber


I have explored most media and sometimes do what traditionalists call “real” art (representational realism, landscape, still life, etc.).  But I have settled into a kind of personal iconographic imagery that expresses my view of the world as it presents itself to me.  In my work, my attempt is to portray the humor, absurdities, and insecurities found among the chaos and confusion that defines modern life.  My work contains symbolic and retrospective images derived from my life experiences.  These images do not impose the restrictions of “rules.”  I do them spontaneously and freely. 

My artistic inspirations are diverse and include such artists as ceramicist Rimas VisGirda, painters Preston Jackson, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, Vincent van Gogh, and the radiant characteristics of Hispanic art.  My style has evolved over time and each phase of it has reflected some aspect of those inspirations and their aggregate influence on me. 

As for media, I use corrugated cardboard, acrylics, watercolors, oil pastel, colored pencils, and oils.  I work in both two and three-dimensional formats.  Some years ago I discovered paper cutting and have developed an obsession with the images created with this medium.  Paper cut images are personally expressive, emotionally soothing, and technically challenging.  Producing them is a cathartic experience in which I can express my frustration and passion with the issues they represent.

Moon Dog Studio includes paintings, paper cuts, dimensional, decorative, and sculptural pieces in a colorful, allegorical mythos full of personal symbolism.  Moon Dog Studio displays and exposes my musings and contemplations about issues vis-à-vis the three dichotomies of love and hate, life and death, and trust and betrayal.  I find as I grow in years, past decisions and forgotten memories were not lost, but merely misplaced, only to be recovered and revealed in all their open, ugly, ponderous, and sometimes humorous portents.  The images here show an evolution of style and technique that was unplanned but not disregarded as it developed.  It was instead, accepted as intrinsic to the artistic process.

My work sometimes depicts the two symbolic and mythical village-republics of Rambago and Parador.  The only interaction between the two communities is via a treacherous one-lane road with two-way traffic that snakes along an escarpment with a 3000-foot drop off on one side and a solid vertical rock escarpment on the other.  The road is called “El Camino de la Muerte” from which there is no escape.  The two communities are in a tentative truce and merely tolerate each other’s existence only as it selfishly benefits each.  Citizens are constantly fleeing from one to the other in search of some illusive contentment or to avoid destruction.  There is sparse air service between the two, and it is very unreliable.  Sometimes some of the colorful characters and their pets step into the picture exposing their flaws and insecurities. 

My work and Moon Dog Studio symbolize the disparity between people and their personal anxieties and uncertainties. 


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Find more of my work at Yard Dog gallery in Austin, TX and also at Smith Studio and Gallery in Geneseo, IL and now at Main Gallery 404 in downtown Bloomington, IL

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