When Brian finished a painting, sometimes he’d invite me to come to his studio, where I was welcomed in, his wood floor polished and shinning and he would direct me to a comfortable chair in front of a professionally displayed painting, complete with frame and proper lighting. Sometimes he would pace around while I studied his work. Sometimes he’d sip a beverage then lean over and ask, “What do you think?” Brian called himself “something of loner,” and he was. On the other hand, Andrea liked people. She would have “a few people over,” then serve elegant hors d’oeuvres.
Andrea was educated at Macalester College, the Herron School of Art and Design, and Butler University. Brian was educated at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Andrea was a teacher, wife of a prominent attorney, and devoted to her family and students. Brian was single. From time to time, he lamented that he would have liked to have had a family, then add, “but my art consumes all my time, and that wouldn’t be fair to any marriage.”
Andrea worked primarily with water colors, liked “plein air” painting, and her subjects were from nature, although she did nudes, landscapes, buildings, and architectural details. “It is important to my well-being to be outside at least part of every day,” she said.
Brian was an oil painter. His subjects generally were peaceful scenes,--lily ponds, autumn streams, hayfields, white birch forests, farmhouses surrounded by red geraniums or hollyhocks, Amish children at play, or masculine southwestern deserts--- most likely a subconscious choice made to emotionally balance his tormented experiences in Viet Nam. "I'm more of a prose painter than a poetic painter,” he’d tell me, “I'm trying to tell a story with my work.”
Periodically Brian would take trips to “find inspiration.” and he’d return and work feverishly on a new series. Although Andrea also was a world traveler, she studied, embraced, and found inspiration in her back yard, flower garden, the Midwestern countryside, and the Great Lakes region. Andrea and Brain’s works were sought after, purchased, and displayed in homes from New York to California.
Recently I noted one of Brian’s paintings for sale on an art auction site. It depicts a scene based on one of his visits to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he planned to retire. Instead, he retired in Biloxi, MI, and built himself a barn studio and a koi pond. A year or so later, Hurricane Katrina devastated his property. He was never the same. He wrote me letters in which he agonized about his inability to “shake it of,” and gradually he stopped painting and became forgetful. Alzheimer’s won. He died in Christian Pass, MS, with no family or funeral service. I have yet to find out who may have overseen the matter or where he is buried. If cremated, it would be appropriate to scatter his ashes in some rugged mountain park because for at least four years, he was an Arts for the Parks Top 100 finalists, a National Park Academy of the Arts competition. In 1995, he was a regional winner.
When Andrea died, her funeral was a community event. She was beloved, and family and friends eulogized her with tears, laughter, and more tears. A Few years ago, with help from their niece, Andrea’s husband waded through her works, searched out owners of her paintings, and put together a catalog of her art in chronological order. It is a handsome book and a fine tribute. The cover features one of her paintings, a Paperwhite Narcissus bulb in bloom.
Andrea wrote, “My paintings affirm the two basic truths echoed in universal order--- form and color.” Andrea was not interested in photo realism, but instead painted scenes that captured light and place.
I treasure having known these two artists for their work, talent, achievements, and oh, how I miss each one.