Ron Hartgrove was born in Big Spring, Texas. He began his career in the jewelry business at the early age of eight. His father, Winston Hartgrove, was a watchmaker who put Ron to work in his store doing simple ring sizing’s, soldering of charms and the disassembly of manual wind watches for cleaning and repair. The leisure time during Ron's teenage years was spent learning and developing advanced jewelry design, bench skills and art.
After graduation from high school, Ron decided to travel throughout Europe to study in the world of artists, designers and craftsmen. His studies were cut short when he was called back to the United States by the draft.
After serving in the United States Air Force, Ron turned his attention to the study of art history. He attended the University of St. Thomas in Houston while continuing to work in the jewelry business. He learned to cut acetate masters while working for a class ring company, Gold Lance before moving on to jewelry repair and custom design work for Raymond Taylor. In 1974, Ron graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in the fields of studio painting and art history.
Ron's paintings, during College, were shown at the University of St. Thomas, Rice University, the Louisiana Gallery, the David Gallery and others. He became acquainted with international art collectors Dominique and Jean de Menil who commissioned and owned several of his works, which are now part of their permanent collection of the Menil Art Museum in Houston. During the early to mid 70's, Ron was instrumental in forming 'The Mandala Group'. This was a group of five artists dedicated to the expression of philosophical ideas through the vehicle of the Mandala using abstract, geometric, eight point symmetry, flat color planes in oil paint on canvass. Their works were shown at the Newport Harbor Art Museum in California in 1974, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 1975, and at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in Clear Lake, TX in 1976 which was cosponsored by the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston.
During the same time period, Ron worked at Corrigan's Jewelers in Houston doing repair, custom and original design. His professional focus soon shifted from painting to jewelry.
In 1979 Ron decided to combine his artistic skills with these technical jewelry skills and formed R. Hartgrove, Inc., a jewelry design and manufacturing business which offered the service of creating unique one-of-a-kind designs and finished products for a private clientele. His expertise in the use of mixed metals lead him into doing much of his work in platinum and 18 Kt yellow gold. His Platinum Guild Award winning earrings (1986 - 2nd Place, Basel Switzerland) and his AGTA Spectrum Award winning ring (1988 - 1st Place, Division 1) both displayed this use of mixed metals.
In 1988, Ron decided to pursue his idea of creating simple and elegant rings and earrings with interchangeable stone spheres without any mechanisms or hinges; the concept grew out of his fascination with ball point pens as a child. The research and development phase was put in motion, prototypes and models soon followed. In 1990, he incorporated Heart & Co., copyrighted his designs, and trademarked the new line as "ORBIS®" from the Latin root word, orb. The nationwide marketing began in June of 1992 at the JCK show in Las Vegas. This collection can also be viewed at our gallery, as well as online at www.orbisjewelry.com. his
In 2007 Ron was called to be part of a group show, Lessons from Below: Otabenga Jones & Associates, at the Menil Museum which displayed a 1969 sculpture the group chose from the museum’s permanent collection. In 2008, Ron once again shifted his attention back to fine art and painting, dividing his time and energy between the two disciplines. In 2009, 33 years after his CAMH sponsored show at NASA, Ron had his first solo show in his own studio/gallery, Hartgrove Galleries. It was a double homage to two 16th and 17th century Japanese men; Basho, a founder of the severe form of Zen poetry known as Haiku and Miyamoto Musashi, a swordsman, ronin and author of The Book of Five Rings - Dokkōdō. This show was followed in April, 2010 by The Commission, a complicated body of work commissioned by the late Jean de Menil in 1971. Both of these shows were followed by Return to Sender, envelope paintings by the late Jack Boynton and The Letters by Ron, in October of 2010. The Book of Days was a yearlong project that began January 1st 2011 and ended December 31st of 2011. Ron did a painting a day which he photographed, cropped, color-balanced and posted on his blog. These paintings were sent all over the world daily. Never Again, his second show, was held at The Lone Star Community College, by invitation, by fellow artist Earl Staley, head of the college’s art department. His third and final show of 2011 was a solo show at Hartgrove Galleries entitled Ars Musica. In 2012 his major show was entitled Gates: Entrances and Exits. In 2013 Ron was involved in two shows, the first was a 25th Anniversary Group show for The American Jewelry Design Council , of which Ron is a founding member and past president. The show was held in New York City at the Forbes Gallery. The second was Black and Light: Blind Sight, at Hartgrove Galleries. In 2014 his current show, Beast: Zombies and Zealots … Redemption, is also being held in Hartgrove Galleries. In October of 2014, Ron will have a second major show, tentatively titled, Hollow Icons in a Desert of Fire.
Ron currently lives in Houston Texas with his wife Kathleen. He enjoys spending time with his five sons, one daughter, and ten grandchildren.
Ron's philosophy is that change is good, and we should never stop growing. Jewelry is Ron's business … good design … and fine art … his passion!