Oak Grove recently received an extraordinary art collection from the estate of David Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez was an art teacher at the American International Secondary School in Germany and early on developed a lifelong interest in art. Mr. Rodriguez first heard Krishnamurti speak at Saanen, Switzerland in the mid-1960s. Mark Lee recalls meeting David throughout many decades at various Krishnamurti talks in India, Switzerland, England, and in the United States.
The rather large collection contains fine art, Tibetan antiquities, folk-art, and other artifacts from around the world. Some items are of sentimental value, while others are relatively precious. It was David’s expressed wish that Oak Grove maintain the collection as a whole and requested we not sell or donate any or all of the collection. We are hoping that the collection will serve an educational purpose — introducing our students to art they may otherwise not have encountered — and at the same time raising profound questions about the role of art in the world, the relationship between art and religious ideas, and practical questions about how art is preserved and displayed.
With this educational purpose in mind, and in considering how to best understand and display the collection, we hired Oak Grove alumna Liza Shapiro, who has her own collections care and management company. Liza graduated from Oak Grove in 2006. Since then, she studied art restoration and art history at Lorenzo De’ Medici, Florence, Italy, Art Conservation at Camberwell College of Art, London, and Museum Studies at University College London.
Liza has broad experience in London’s foremost museums and galleries, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Modern, where she assisted in the Exhibition and Conservation departments. She also worked at the Redfern Gallery as a studio assistant and at Paul Stolper gallery supporting a Damien Hirst exhibition. Additionally, Liza worked for Lock & Co. as an Exhibition Registrar. Liza has recently relocated to Los Angeles, where she currently manages and cares for private art collections.
Liza has catalogued the collection we received and is working closely with Oak Grove staff to determine the best way to share and protect this generous and thoughtful legacy gift. Some of the less valuable artifacts may be displayed at the campus for students and others to enjoy, while the more precious items will likely be loaned to museums that have the ability to properly care for them while making them available to a larger audience.
A legacy gift of this magnitude has a large impact on a small school like Oak Grove. To honor this gift and the desires of the late Mr. David Rodriguez, we are working to preserve his collection and make it available for many years to come.
More about David:
David Evan Rodriguez was born on July 1, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Lane Technical High School, where he took art classes in oil and watercolor painting. After enrolling in Saturday classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, he was granted a four-year scholarship, where he completed a BA in Art Education.
Pursuing his interest in teaching, David moved to Berlin in the early ‘70s, where he served as an art teacher at the Berlin American Elementary (Thomas A. Toberts) School and then at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK). David’s eclectic group of friends included the German artist Eberhard Franke, with whom he had a close friendship that spanned decades. When David retired and moved to Florida, the two men kept in touch through many long letters and postcards. Through these letters, one gets a deep sense of David as a human being and friend: kind, loyal, caring, and profoundly intelligent.
David Rodriguez traveled throughout the world, to Europe, North and South America, and India, where he became familiar with J. Krishnamurti, whom he met several times. At one of Krishnamurti’s talks in Switzerland, David met Mark Lee, the first Director of Oak Grove School. After traveling to the Rishi Valley School in India, where he saw Mark once again, David decided to make the trip to Ojai, where he discovered the beauty of Oak Grove School. Feeling a deep connection to Krishnamurti, David believed that the school would be the ideal place to bequeath his extensive art collection so that he could continue to inspire students.
David Rodriguez was an independent, free thinker whose unique art collection includes Asian antiquities, paintings, prints, and many of his own artworks. Oak Grove is deeply grateful to have the opportunity to house his art collection, with hopes to inspire the students and community for many years to come.