Nonstop Nonagenarian

Bogdan Grom - New Jersey Monthly - Best of NJ

The nearly 90-year-old artist shudders at his age and plans to keep creating for at least a couple more decades.
Photo: Pete Byron

In his nearly nine decades, Bogdan Grom has created art in just about every medium you can imagine, including watercolor and oil paintings, sculpture, cutouts, charcoal, and textiles. But as he approaches his 90th birthday on August 26, this sprightly virtuoso says he is not yet ready to retire the tools of his trade—not even close.

“I need 25 more years, minimum, to even scratch the surface of my projects,” says Grom, whose life as an artist took him from his birthplace in Trieste, Italy, to residences throughout Europe, New York, and eventually New Jersey. “There are too many loose ends to tie.”

On any day in his Englewood studio, Grom has several projects going at once—a charcoal inspired by his trips to New Mexico, a sculpture triggered by a current event, a cutout influenced by nature. “I cannot work only on one thing,” he says with a laugh. “I’m always going from one thing to another and coming back.”

In addition to the medley of creativity covering the walls and surfaces of his home, Grom’s works can be found all around the world­ and throughout New Jersey, in gallery shows, private collections, and as major installations. The atrium of the 505 Corporate building in Hackensack, for example, encloses his Cosmos, a cascade of hanging laser-cut Muntz-metal panels, and Meteorite, a stainless-steel sculpture.

Grom’s love of nature is at the heart of most of his works and a major reason he moved to the Garden State in the early 1980s, a block away from Flat Rock Brook Nature Center, a 150-acre preserve on the western slope of the Palisades. “I never belonged in a city, and I always loved nature,” he says. “Here in New Jersey, I am surrounded by nature.”

At the mention of his coming milestone, Grom groans. But there’s a gleam in his eye as he pulls out a Slovenian desk calendar, which has an August page dedicated to him. He will be traveling to Ljubljana—a city he once called home—for an exhibit in October. He is quickly on his feet, showing off the works that will be featured. When asked how many hours he spends working on his art each day, he smiles. “How many hours I don’t sleep?”

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