Gregory Kondos, 1923-2021
‘His art will live on forever’
By Cecily Hastings
Sacramento artist Gregory Kondos passed away in late March. He was 97 and worked in his studio most days until his death.
Upon his passing, the Crocker Art Museum wrote:
“Kondos is best known for the buttery spread of bright, warm color in his thickly painted landscapes. Even the cool tones of blue of his paintings are heated, evoking sun-warmed expanses of summer sky and water. The intensity of color and heat broadly flattens detail and is common in Sacramento, where he painted and taught for half a century.
“Through his use of high-keyed color and broad paint handling, Kondos displayed an affinity to artists like Roland Petersen, Raimonds Staprans and Wayne Thiebaud, with whom he shared an abiding friendship. In 2013 Thiebaud noted, ‘He makes a sweeping gesture and then adds detail with quick stops like exclamation points. He addresses horizons, rivers, seas, those things that change constantly with looseness and freedom and a kind of brush dancing.’”
According to the Crocker, “Kondos’ series of Napa and Sonoma county subjects culminated in 1989 with a monumental work, ‘Rutherford Vineyard.’ This painting’s true subjects are grapevines and shadows, which occupy a full four-fifths of the composition. Like other works in the vineyard series, grape leaves are rendered as calligraphic abstractions in pure, saturated color. Foreground vines and posts are depicted nearly life-size and resolve into something identifiable only at a distance when the accompanying buildings and trees come into view.”
Regretfully, I did not get to know Kondos, although I admired his work and was thrilled he was honored on Sacramento’s Walk of Stars in 2017. His star is installed in the sidewalk on L Street near 19th Street in Midtown.
My friend Tim Collom, an accomplished artist, knew Kondos well. He offered his thoughts:
“I can’t say enough about Greg Kondos, an incredibly funny, charismatic and charming man. He was harsh in his criticism of my work, but only to make me better. I often visited his studio and listened to every word as he was a wealth of knowledge and always wanted to teach. He was one of the best art teachers because he gave practical advice that a painter could truly understand.
“Greg Kondos and Wayne Thiebaud have always been so gracious to me and so many artists in the region. They are two of the best role models that held such a high standard of excellence through hard work and discipline. Greg was an artist’s artist as he practiced what he preached every single day. Through his sketches and paintings all over the world he embodied everything he saw through his own eyes.
“Sacramento and the whole art world lost an icon with his larger-than-life personality and his art will live on forever. Love goes to his incredible wife, Moni Van Camp, who was there every step of the way. Moni will forever hold a place in my heart as a champion for Greg and so many artists in the area. Rest in peace my friend, and above all, thank you.”
Cecily Hastings can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.