Where are they now: Richard Black, FA ’57, Professor Emeritus of Art
From the rooms of Drake’s Studio Arts Hall to the rows of a grape vineyard, retirement has been a change of scenery but certainly not a rest for Richard Black, FA’57. When he left Drake in 1994 after 35 years of teaching in the art department Black saw a chance to expand his work into new horizons.
“I was looking forward to retirement, and now I feel pretty much the same way,” Black says. “It gave me the opportunity to do a lot of other things I was always looking to do.”
One of those new opportunities is the grape vineyard Black runs in Farnhamville, Iowa. Following a lifelong passion for gardening, Black began growing and selling grapes in 2000.
“Most people assume that because I raise grapes, I also make wine, but I don’t,” Black says. “Wine is too confining because there’s the exact recipe you have to follow. Art is the opposite, and it allows you to experiment.”
After grape harvest season is over, Black spends the rest of the year in the printmaking studio he built on his farm.
“I just see art as an opportunity to explore a lot of new ideas,” Black says. “Very seldom do you hear about artists who stop making pictures, because they just don’t retire.”
As a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Black participates in a show every fall in London. Last year, one of his entries was selected for a prize, and his work was published in a London printmaking magazine.
Despite the demands of balancing two careers, Black maintains his connection to Drake, especially Bulldogs basketball.
“I’ve had season tickets since probably 1954,” Black says. “Having played [basketball] myself, I appreciate the game. I even watched them play in the Final Four in the late ’60s.”
Hectic schedule and all, Black sees no signs of slowing down.
“I enjoy everything I do and get so much pleasure from it,” Black says.
—Abbey Barrow, Class of 2015
Visit Olson Larson Galleries to view more of Richard Black’s art.