Dick LaBonté (1921-2011) was born in Battle Creek, Mich., and grew up in Wilmette, Ill. His writing and artistic skills were honed at New Trier High School and Colgate University. During World War II, he served in the US Navy as commanding officer of a submarine chaser in the South Pacific.
LaBonté's postwar business career included 28 years with the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company in New York, where he held several managerial positions, among them Director of Sales Promotion of Business Week Magazine.
Seeking a different outlet for his creative skills, Mr. LaBonté took early retirement in the 1970's and began a second career as an artist. Using a neo-primitive style, he focused on nostalgic paintings of the New Jersey Shore. Limited edition prints of his work were an instant success, and distribution quickly spread along the east coast from Cape Cod to Florida.
Actually, Dick LaBonté's best-known painting is not a seashore scene but a fantasy entitled, "Cocktails at the White House". Depicting a gathering of all the Presidents and First Ladies, it was painted in 1984. New Presidents are added as they take office. The print is in its fifth edition, with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama added to the painting. Continuing in the same venue, "At the Garden of Allah" depicts favorite Hollywood actors and actresses of the 1930's and 1940's gathered at party, dressed in costumes from their well-known movies.
Available at most bookstores is "Dick LaBonté: Paintings of the Jersey Shore and More", published by Jersey Shore Publications. This wonderful coffee table book includes over 160 images of paintings by Dick LaBonté, with comments about each painting written by the artist.
Dick LaBonté was listed in "Who's Who in American Art".
His family has a home in Bay Head, New Jersey. His daughter Anne owns and operates the Anchor & Palette Art Gallery, the main source of his paintings and prints.
"When Earth's Last Picture Is Painted" by Rudyard Kipling, 1892
When Earth's last picture is painted and the tubes are
twisted and dried,
When the oldest colors have faded and the youngest critic has died.
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it -- lie down for an eon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall put us to work anew.
And those that were good shall be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten league canvas with brushes of comets' hair.
They shall find real saints to draw from -- Magdalene, Peter and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all.
And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money and no one shall work for fame,
But each for the joy of the working and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees it for the God of Things as They are.