By Mary Getlein
Raymond Dean Packard was a Venice artist from 1975 to 1989. He is a renowned water colorist and oil painter who did hundreds of beautiful paintings of Venice.Beachhead:
Beachhead: When did you feel like an artist? Did you always know you would be an artist?
Packard: Yes, as far back as I remember. After I finished with the Navy, I went to Art School on the GI Bill and graduated with an Masters in Fine Arts.
Beachhead: Did you start out as an independent painter?
Packard: No – I managed my own gallery in Akron, Ohio. Having The Packard Gallery was one of the major highlights of my life. I went to Europe once or twice and brought back Picassos to sell. My gallery was mentioned in several art books as a “cutting edge” gallery. I showed artists from all over, including works by Andy Warhol. I met a lot of well-known artists in and out of New York City.
Beachhead: What brought you to Venice, California?
Packard: It was 1975. I put it to a vote for my two young sons, Vincent and Raynard. My wife had just died and it was time for a change. I was burned out on the art business, so I played at being a business man.
Beachhead: What did you do when you got here?
Packard: At first I worked for General Motors in the Valley, just to pay the rent and support my two boys. My drinking got worse the longer I worked on an assembly line, and after two years I quit. I started showing my art out on the Boardwalk and got a favorable response from people there. This was exciting for me, and I was able to survive off my art, which is something I had wanted for a long time.
Ray lived in Venice until 1989, when he decided to go into a VA rehab and get sober. He still has clients in Southern California who buy his work. They call him on hte phone, describe a painting, and he matches it up and sends it to them.
One client in Santa Monica has over 200 Ray Packard paintings. “During the 1984 Olympics, many of my paintings went all over the world,” said Ray. When I asked him if he ever felt like keeping a special painting, he said, “No, never.” He sold everything he could.
Beachhead: Do you miss Venice, and what do you miss the most?
Packard:I think about Venice every day, and miss all the beautiful women I knew the most. We all had a lot of fun in those days, and those are fun memories to look back on.
Beachhead: What is the driving force in your life, Ray?
Packard: Well, art, of course, and living the life of an artist and meeting and enjoying all the beautiful women who were attracted to my art. I loved having wild parties in Venice.
Beachhead: Yes, Ray, I remember you had quite a reputation as a ladies man in Venice. When you left Venice, Teresa Daniels said, “You had been rescued by the breasts of all the beautiful women in Venice.” Do you remember that quote?
Packard: Yes, vaguely. I loved Venice and all the eccentric people of Venice. I look forward to my issue of The Beachhead every month. I show people The Beachhead and say, “Do you see what you’re missing living in Ohio?”
Ray is living in Akron, Ohio with his partner, Bunny, and enjoys his life. He is very proud of his sons and grandchildren, and is glad to be sober and drug-free.
Packard: Life is tough enough, so it’s easy to stay sober. I swim almost every day, ride my bike, enjoy my family and enjoy my life. What more could one ask for?
For information on price lists, collector lists, or for an appointment, please contact Ray Packard, 1319 Shanabrook Drive, Akron, Ohio 44313 (234) 542-3950. b