Harrison Thomas Groutage
(Richmond, Utah, 1925 - 2013, Logan, Utah)
Harrison Groutage was born on April 21, 1925 in Richmond Utah. Groutage spent much of his life on the University level whether it was as a student or a teacher. He attended Utah State University and Weber State before he went on to Brigham Young University where he received his Bachelors Degree in 1953. He then studied at the University of Utah and received a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in 1954. Groutage later went back in 1963 and did Post Graduate work at Iowa State University.
Between 1952 and 1963 when Groutage did his Post Graduate work he spent a lot of time not only on his artwork and school but getting his feet wet with teaching. Groutage was often very popular with his students not only because of his artistic talents but also because of is facile mind and quick wit. He first taught at Snow College from 1952-53. Then Groutage obtained an art position at Utah State University, which he would keep for over 30 years. While he taught at Utah State he was also a guest instructor for summer sessions at the University of Utah, and Boise Jr. College and held watercolor workshops at Monterey Bay for over ten years. After teaching at Utah State for nine years he was made Head of the Department of Art (SMA web site and Artists listings information).
Harrison Groutage is an enormously talented artist and is proficient in many different fields- painting, watercolor, oils, acrylics, printmaking, ceramics, advertising design, and lettering. His main interests have now turned to painting. He shows great versatility in both oils and watercolors and once said, “One must not be married to one treatment, or one method.”
Desert News writer Richard Christensen feels more viewers are attracted to his watercolors. “The transparency and soft edges, characteristic of watercolor, are handled masterfully, especially in his small paintings (Desert News Tues. March 18, 1980, 8C).” However, Groutage didn’t paint in only watercolor and oils, nor were all his paintings small, one of his most famous works is a rather large mural. In 1964 Groutage was commissioned to do a mural for Dixie State College in St. George, Utah. The mural was to be place on the side of the new Fine Arts Center designed by architect William Rowe Smith. The mural has been cherished by the students and faculty at Dixie for years, sadly in 2002 the building, which had been condemned was demolished to make way for a new, larger Fine Arts Center(15-Bytes: Artists of Utah E-Zine “Touches of Fine Art”, Dec 2002,p.3).
While Groutage doesn’t limit the subjects of his work he has shown a great love for landscape. Of this love he states, “The existence of sky, water, and land forms, as they defy the elements and man, move me to the expression of ideas in my work. Frequently , I study the same features which inspired our early painters; proving that in spite of the damage inflicted by man (often greater than that caused by all the relentless forces of nature), many of them have remained alive and well (quote from SMA archives, 15 Jan 1991).”
Groutage has been able to capture landscape and various genre scenes with a technique which expresses great depth of detail with minimal work. Whatever the medium Groutage seems to use he loves the subject of nature. Like many Utah born artists the Western Landscape seems to capture Groutage so that he seems to never leave. “I am a confirmed westerner. While my painting derives its inspiration in fields, streams, mountains, rocks and coasts of the west, I paint mainly in Utah. I respond to the western landscape with its special aspects of form, light and atmosphere, an obsession which carries over to the three-dimensional work in wood and stone. In addition to painting, some of my current projects include a series of bird forms and a series based on primitive artifacts of several cultures (MOA archives).”
Harrison Groutage, who has received recognition for his handcrafts, printmaking, painting, drawing and murals, has had 55 one-man show, participated in 60 group shows, received 55 awards and is included in over 500 private and public collections. Honors and recognitions include: National Academy of design, World Book Encyclopedia, Paramount Pictures, National Watercolor Society, Watercolor USA, Western States Art Foundation, Jackson Hole Art League, Snow Bird Institute, Utah Sate Institute of Fine Arts, Mormon Arts Festival, Springville Art Museum, Pasadena Art Museum, California Watercolor Society, Utah Heritage Society, and more(Ten Utah Painters, 1984). Harrison Groutage is an experimenter with new techniques and has used this to his advantage, now his works are in great demand throughout the state.
Harrison Groutage is best known for his watercolors and dramatic landscapes in oils and acrylics. Groutage has retired from teaching at Utah State University as an emeritus professor in the Fine Arts Department and is missed by all those who were fortunate enough to have him as a teacher.
"Grout," as his old students and friends affectionately call him, considers himself an abstract realist. As Carlton Culmsee has noted: "The role of the poet [artist] is to create something new – something never before seen on land or sea." Grout rises to that challenge to create new images and compositions of our familiar western landmarks so revered by early painters, reaffirming their dignity with fresh insight by distorting and abstracting with his own creative ingenuity.