Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thank You, Bob Reimer

Portrait of Bob Reimer, oil on canvas, 20 x 20"
A couple of weeks ago, there was a gathering at North Mount Pleasant Arts Center in Calgary, bringing together family, friends and staff to remember Bob Reimer. At the event, there was an informal dedication of my Public Art piece (Calgary Civic Art Collection), “Portrait of Bob Reimer”, installed this past summer.

I was unable to attend, but had some words spoken on my behalf, in reference to the inspiration behind the piece, as well as the influence the subject had on me as an artist and a person. Here are those words:

" First I would like to convey just how touched and honoured I am that my personal expression of the essence of Bob Reimer has found its place, here at North Mount Pleasant Art Center, where I met him, taught with him and learned from him. It was through the financial support and belief of many of you that made this possible. Thank you all.

The story of this painting, for me, is an interesting one. Before Bob passed away, I started digging through his photos, knowing I needed to paint him in some way; to pay tribute to my friend who taught me so much, not only technically about a medium that is not my first language (clay), but more importantly about the ‘heart’ and ‘honesty’ required to fold into the mix of the technique, concept, and aesthetic of art making.

At the time that I was sorting through these photos, narrowing them down to the ones that affectionately displayed his lines, his history, his warmth, and wisdom, I was also facing an upcoming major surgery myself. I was unable to paint for 2 months during recovery. I promised myself that when I got back to work, every brush stroke would be honest. There would be no short cuts, no filling in. Every space, every object, every variation of light and form would be felt, and my entire history of emotion and knowledge would be loaded in each stroke. Bob’s portrait was the first piece I painted when the doctors gave me the go ahead to get back to my studio work. By this time, the news of Bob’s death had weighed on my heart for a month, and added to the substance of each mark.

I had hoped when planning this painting, to show it to Bob, to thank him for his lessons, friendship and example. Unfortunately, I never had the chance. I know my modest friend wouldn’t have had an easy time with the attention, but I do hope he would have been touched, and that he would have understood the gravity of his words and encouragement."

The piece is displayed at North Mount Pleasant Arts Center, 523 27 Avenue, North West, Calgary.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

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