Bob Gregson – Defender of the Playful

There’s a work of art hanging on one of the walls of Bob Gregson‘s studio. It’s a framed letter that Bob had notarized. It reads: “Bob Gregson has never done a work of art in his entire career or anything that remotely resembles one.”

With this, he has managed to transform what anyone else would consider to a profound insult into what, oddly enough, is a testimony to the playfulness that he has brought to art – or is it the art he has brought to his playfulness?

In an earlier post, on Deep Fun, I called Bob an “artist of whimsy and delight.” Most recently, Bob’s nephew produced a short documentary that made me realize I need to write about him again – this time to grant him the much-deserved honor, benefits, and privileges of the title “Defender of the Playful.”

The video is just long enough to hint at the depth of his playfulness – a clear enough hint to allow me to demonstrate why I have such a deep appreciation for his work, his lifelong struggle to share it, and his many delightfully provoking accomplishments.

Upon learning of this award, Mr. Gregson responded: “I am humbled at this honor. As you’ve taught me (and I think you said) ‘play is a terribly maligned word.’ And it is true – and when you make ‘art’ (or ‘fart’ which is ‘fun art’ as one 13 year old called my work) it is really hard to get people to understand. But then again, if they understood they would be very self-conscious of the subtle decisions that one makes to create a comfortable and safe play-space. But with all that said, it REALLY comes down to my selfish desire to have fun – and the more I can twist the rules around, the more I can get people to play – and thus allow me to play too. This reminds me of a student paper that someone did a few years ago when I was a guest teacher at a ‘Creativity Class’ (whatever that is!). At any rate, I had college students working in teams to make buildings in which the team could fit. Newspaper was the medium. One student wrote in her report that ‘it was clear that Mr. Gregson could hardly restrain himself from participating.’ And it’s true. I can’t help myself. “

Bob Gregson is gift. And here he is, for you to enjoy.

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