We are in the last week of our Memorial Show for the late Tom Buechner, which ends on November 12. In conjunction with this exhibit, we have been running a series of essays that were written by artists who painted and/or studied with Tom. These essays accompanied an accompanying tribute show consisting of work by these artists that hangs in the upstairs gallery at the West End, which also ends on the 12th.
Today we feature an essay by photographer/artist Barbara Blumer
I am grateful I was able to spend time with Tom during the last year. We became friends. Our friendship started when I made his portrait for my In Their Studios photo essay, and then took a painting workshop with him, which led to him inviting me to paint with him and Lin Gardner on Wednesday afternoons during what turned out to be his last six months.
He would work on his stuff while we worked on ours. Some days when he didn’t feel up to painting, he would read while we painted.We enjoyed feisty conversations about everything—from local politics—to how best to help struggling artists we know—to the “right” way to hold a paint brush—and how he should stop picking on the way Lin and I like to bring a lot of stuff with us to paint with him. He found my toothbrush holder for my paint brushes particularly peculiar.
He has lots of rules—don’t ring the doorbell, don’t track in winter slush on his refurbished studio floors, don’t interrupt his nap, let him speak, stop at exactly 5 p.m.—but we adapted easily. The camaraderie more than made up for any conforming we had to do.
I fondly remember one of our conversations. We were sitting on his patio in the sun while he smoked his cigar and I showed him a group of photos I was considering for the basis of a new series of photographs, called Beyond The Path. I was stuck and wanted his opinion.
One of the images in the series was this tree—the Buechner tree next to his garage. He said how intrigued he was that he had never observed it in this way. And then, sarcastically said that he’d have to charge me for use of it! So, I said I’d have to charge him back for some prints I had just made for him. That was our banter.
What I will really miss about Tom is the opportunity to talk to him about what he thought of things. In turn, I felt like he cared what I thought, which is a gift I will always appreciate. But the more interesting thing to me is that he gave the same gift to hundreds of people. He was very generous.