A few years ago I asked local resident Dan Rose how he liked living in Chestnut Hill. He replied, “My wife, Martha, and I have lived in several places, but I have loved only two, Vermont and Chestnut Hill. I will only leave Chestnut Hill in a pine box.
A few years ago I asked local resident Dan Rose how he liked living in Chestnut Hill. He replied, “My wife, Martha, and I have lived in several places, but I have loved only two, Vermont and Chestnut Hill. I will only leave Chestnut Hill in a pine box. Here I can go to the co-op, art galleries, fine places to eat, great shops, etc. What a great place to live!”
So last week I asked Dan if he still plans on only leaving Chestnut Hill in a pine box — and does it absolutely have to be pine? He replied, “Either the pine box — yes, pine — or in a jar of ashes. Honestly, I don't care which, the point being that I love living in Chestnut Hill … I have requested that at my memorial service Frank Sinatra's, 'My Way' be blared loudly and repeatedly. (Just once would actually be fine).”
Rose, 80, is one of those creative people who do everything well. His artwork has appeared in numerous publications, including academic work, poetry and artist books; he has received national and international acclaim for exhibits of his 3-D whimsical and imaginary worlds as well as his paintings. He has redesigned automobiles, collaborated with musicians, photographers and actors; and finally published a book of more than 20 years of his drawings. The one-pound hardback book (as in mill boards that are normally used in rare book restoration), “Dan Rose Drawings,” came off the press before the pandemic.
“Two hundred copies were printed, and a limited number were additionally colored and treated by hand,” said Rose. “Many were sent to artist book collections from California to France. One hundred copies of 'Faces' were printed in 2020, and some of those were hand-colored.
“My objective with these artist books and my Instagram site (@drdanrose) is to treat the images as though they were a show in a gallery that is shared with friends, colleagues and institutions. I feel that this goal has succeeded.”
Rose was born on a farm in Iowa, where his father had a doctorate degree in theology. He came to Philly in 1969 to do pre-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania, and his doctoral dissertation, “Black American Street Life: South Philadelphia: 1969-1971,” led to a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Rose joined the faculty of the landscape architecture department at the U of P in 1974. During his 24-year tenure there he taught landscape architecture in the School of Design and also in the Department of Anthropology. With his students, he explored nature and culture, local land use decision making, questions of human evolution and the future of humanity.
How has Rose been coping during the pandemic? “I have been restricted to living at home and entering zero retail space, which is an unwelcome constraint from visiting the shops in Chestnut Hill and visiting with our daughter's family and grandchildren. Making art in the studio is the task I do every day.”
Rose's wife, Martha, 67, is a landscape artist who has taught art, has a master's degree from Penn and is active at Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting. Some of the Friends members are housebound, and Martha and others make meals and deliver them. The Roses have two daughters, Meredith, 41, a painter; and Emma, 39, a nurse-midwife who also lives in Chestnut Hill with her husband Neil and two daughters, Lucia and Juliette, and Collie puppy.
When I asked Rose what person has had the greatest impact on his life, he replied, “Marcel Duchamp, whose major works are featured at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. One day I was in the room devoted to his images and writings, and I fell under the spell of an epiphany, a realization that I could do things differently, both in anthropology and in my life. I gave myself to that insight, which of course ruined the advice of the earnest dean I once had, which had been to pursue one thing deeply.
“Marcel Duchamp made his life, his existence, even breathing, a work of art, or anti-art, an ambition with which I feel the most elemental sympathy, more a subversion of the everyday rather than a rebellion against it.”
Here is a link to Rose's recent activity, a show of about 120 pieces of artwork titled “False Heads, Robots and Masks”: thearches.flowercat.org. Dan Rose can be reached at email@example.com. Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org