Legacy of Adam Grant

The tragedy of great artists, says Peggy Grant, is that they live only during the time that they work, and when they pass away, their creation dies with them if they have no one to pass on their way of seeing the world.  She never wanted this fate to befall her husband, Adam Grant, and therefore she continues his work in her own special way identifying with his creation, presenting it to the world by traveling to various Polish centers to talk about Adam Grant’s life and art.  He has remained alive in this way and by her side.

We were fortunate to have been visited by Mrs. Grant in the Cleveland Polish American Cultural Center on January 5, to hear her speak about Adam Grant and view his work in a slide show presentation.

Talented people, we tend to believe, are somehow unapproachable, living in a rarified atmosphere of excellence, above the rest of us of average intelligence and ability.  Talent however does not discriminate and elevate those who have it while discrediting those who simply admire it.  Those who create that which is enjoyed by many are like the rest of us in many ways.   They are perhaps more perceptive to the beauty and the chaos of our world, which can cause them to be more temperamental and sensitive to hurts and reversals, more susceptible to addictions.  But they love just we do, suffer, as we do, fail and triumph like the rest of us.  When we admire a painting, we grow nearer to the artist, desiring to know their mind and heart, to understand their creation within the context of time and place and to understand what they intended to tell the world.  We wonder who was this person. How did he behave publicly? What were his private family life and relationships like?

Peggy Grant, the widow of the well known artist Adam Grant, speaks lovingly of her husband, tears of joy welling in her eyes when she describes his quiet, peaceful nature. “He had a wonderful spirit and was very emotional, sensitive and gentle.  He absolutely never raised his voice!  He was happiest when he could be alone in the house, surrounded by silence. Then he would paint.  That is when he felt best and the most relaxed.  Everything he painted came from the heart.  He truly admired the beautiful female form and feminine nature very much, thus the main subject of most of his paintings.”  She adds dreamily “He was my first and my only love”.

Adam Grant was born in 1924 in Warsaw and died in Toledo, Ohio in 1992.  He was one of the most admired and respected painters of the American midwest.   His works are exhibited in museums, galleries and private collections.  “Painting was his passion and his life’s calling” says his wife Peggy.

Adam Grant’s lifetime spanned one of the cruelest and most difficult periods of human history.   He survived the nightmare of concentration camps during WWII—Auschwitz and Mauthausen.  Later he faced hardship in refugee camps until he was able to emigrate to another country.  He never gave up on his art during this difficult period, making it his refuge and hope, a means of surviving against almost insurmountable challenges.  Surviving the horror of the Holocaust, this talented Pole rescued his spirit and preserved his artistic vision, talent and hopes to share it with the world.

“I love you my preety girl” he whispered to his wife with his last breath at the end of his life.  Peggy Grant now dedicates her life to tell as many as she can about him “whose creation is worth much more than the admiration of critics, or spaces in museums and galleries.  His life’s work is worthy of note because of the very special person that Adam Grant was.”

Agata Foremska
Translated by Zofia Wisniewski

Forum, 1/2007