Monday, February 18, 2013

Jenny Hunter Groat (1929-2013)

circa early 1960's

Jenny Hunter Groat was an artist that I've known for the last many years through my association with the San Geronimo Valley Community Center.     

I wrote the obituary below for the Center's newspaper Stone Soup:

Our hearts go out to Peter Groat, who has lost his loving soul mate of 58 years, Jenny Hunter Groat.

Jenny was a remarkable creative and inspirational spirit. As an artist she had the capacity to reinvent herself several times over.  Her creative endeavors moved from modern dance to calligraphy to abstract painting.
Jenny ‘s first career was as a dancer.  She studied with Anna Halprin and early on taught dance at Reed College in Portland. In the 1960’s, she founded her own dance studio, Dance West, in San Francisco. Jenny choreographed works for KQED, Stanford University, The Actor’s Workshop and the Carmel Bach Festival.

Then after 19 years of dance, she shifted creative gears to become a well known calligrapher.  She took commissions and taught workshops around the country and in Canada. Her work in calligraphy lead to an interest in creating art books.  One of her art books, “A Vision”, is in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Jenny eventually moved away from calligraphy desiring to return to the non-verbal. She began to paint. Even as a dancer she had been drawn to the abstract works of Jackson Pollack and Robert Motherwell. She once referred to her own painting as “second-generation abstract expressionism”

As disparate as these forms of expression may seem, her artistic life formed a continuum.  With her spontaneity of line and movement Jenny brought the sensibilities of a dancer to her painting and calligraphy.    

Jenny’s calligraphy and painting were her dances.
We, who have been lucky enough to know Jenny, will miss her warm, creative spirit.

She brought light to all she met.

Long before I met Jenny at the Center  I was familiar with her work in her earlier persona as a calligrapher. Back in San Francisco, a couple of decades earlier, we were both members of a graphic artists organization--Artists in Print (AIP).

Here is an article that Jenny wrote in 1980 for the AIP member publication Graphiti

Jenny with an old friend, artist Harry Cohen
(photo by Peter Groat)

For an interview with Jenny and Harry see our archives for January 26, 2011


  1. Dear Larry Rippee and Molly Rea --

    I know Jenny from the community of Mail Artists (Artistamp Mailing List = AML).

    Thanks for showing me all her remarkable talents and dimensions.

    Thought you might get pleasure out of this crude little tribute:

    "There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is Love, the only meaning, the only survival." -- Wilder, "Bridge of San Luis Rey"

    Nob Merkin
    Massachusetts USA