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For the Love of Art

June 28, 2023

Undying passion for art that traveled from Peru to Connecticut.

For as long as Raul Grande can remember – and, at 95, that’s a long time! – his consuming passion has been drawing.

The father of three daughters and grandfather of three, the Independence at Home client was recently recognized for drawing a caricature of Geno Auriemma, coach of the 2023 UConn men’s basketball championship team. But, the accolades and achievements go much further back than that.

His passion for art was sparked when, as a child in Lima, Peru, he watched his first cousin draw magazine covers. Impressed, Grande fell in love with the art form, specifically caricatures.

Perfecting his craft day in and day out, Grande attended Bellas Artes, a post-secondary school in Lima, and became an art teacher. Yet, he only taught for a year, realizing he would rather draw himself than teach.

At 18, he started his professional career at a newspaper company, La Cronica, drawing fashion pictures, political caricatures and ads.

Grande’s other passion is soccer. At 12 years old, his team was down two goals with only 15 minutes left when he went in and scored two goals in time to tie the game.

In 1957, he brought both his passions to the U.S., living first in Hartford then later in a Wethersfield home with a studio.

Here, while playing in local adult soccer clubs, Grande’s career path led him to the Hartford Courant. As a marketing artist for 14 years, his work was similar to what he did at La Cronica. This time, however, Grande earned the Heart & Crown Award in 1997 for best illustration of a boat in the Northeast’s biggest newspaper contest. Through the years, Grande also worked for big brands like Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Robert Hall, Stykers and the New York Times.

These days, although officially retired, Grande still freelances, his in-home studio plastered with hundreds of his drawings of fashion, sports, caricatures and politics. His most recent work of art was created for Mercado 27, a Hartford Peruvian restaurant. Diners can see his work embodied in a well-dressed man eating a Peruvian foot-long sandwich.

He works because he doesn’t want to stop. His creativity remains strong and will continue to live on for years. His next drawing, a second piece, can be found at Mercado 27.