Most neighborhoods have longtime residents…the lucky ones have neighbors with special characteristics. The Whittier neighborhood was blessed with Bob Ragland. Bob loved old stuff and made art out of the stuff he found. There is an art to dumpster diving and Bob was the expert. He knew every alley and trash days for each. My last conversation with him was in my alley a few days before his passing. Stroll throughout the neighborhood and city and you will spot a piece of Bob’s sculpture in many yards. I will miss ducking through his many pieces hanging in my path to Whittier Cafe and the signs that they were all for sale.
Our paths also crossed throughout Denver’s art scene where Bob would be surrounded by artists and art lovers. He never stopped teaching us that doing art was a great profession, that we all should be doing well and he could teach us how to make that happen.
It did not take long for news to spread throughout our neighborhood that something had happened to Bob Ragland. Appreciation for our neighborhood surged once again when I heard it was Whittier Cafe staff who called in a wellness check when they realized Bob had not been seen for a few days. We wish the outcome of that welfare check would have been different but so grateful it was done.
Bob Ragland was an icon and helped to make our neighborhood one folks want to hang out in. His persistence that there was no reason to be a starving artist, he was not one and buying his art would help that cause be long remembered. Our neighborhood walks will still include Dolly Lama and others like her thanks to Bob and his dumpster diving. But we will miss the alley conversations and gallery openings where the message was loud and clear. Bob Ragland was not a starving artist.RIP Bob Ragland…the Whittier neighborhood will miss you!