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Portrait, 2005, paint on board, collection of Paul and Karen Graubard. Photo Norman Watkins.

Paul Graubard

(1932– )

Paul Graubard was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and grew up in Passaic – a mill town "15 miles from NYC and 100 years behind the times." Childhood memories, fables, Romanian songs, and travel all inspire Paul’s work. Paul explains, "There is a Chassidic belief that one can thank The Lord for the gift of life and its bounties by singing, dancing and engaging in joyful creation. This philosophy is a guiding force behind my paintings. My work comes out of a need to celebrate life."

Paul began drawing as a child during World War II, depicting U.S. tanks, warships, and airplanes beating the Nazis. Drawing battle scenes was the most interesting part of school to him, and he dropped out in the tenth grade to hitchhike the US. After taking a high school equivalency exam, Graubard attended college, and eventually settled down in New York City to raise a family. He worked as a third-grade teacher, a professor of special education, and 20 years as a psychologist, always finding work that gave him the autonomy he craved. His beloved eldest daughter’s untimely death from cancer hit him hard, setting off a period of profound grief, but eventually leading to deep creative growth. "On a whim, and maybe out of desperation," some 50 years after the end of WWII, Graubard started to draw again. Two years later Paul quit his job, and has been working “full time and a half” as a painter ever since. "I do believe that stumbling on art saved my well-being, if not my life," he says.

Ezekiel's Oval Vision, Paul Graubard, 2006, acrylic collage on wood. Photo by Dan Meyers