This past fall the gallery hosted a tribute to the late Tom Buechner, who passed away earlier in the year. The exhibit featured work from many of his students and painting companions, each of who provided a short essay about their time spent with Tom. We are trying to run the entire series of essays here on this blog and will continue until the end of this year.
Today we feature an essay from Marty Poole.
Tom was lots of things to lots of people. There is enough of Tom’s life to fill a few of these books—museum work, being in business, writings, and of course, his various and partly crazy projects (too many to list). My favorite version of Tom is the slightly cranky optimist who resolutely dragged his paintbox out into all kinds of terrain and made a zillion sketches of the great outdoors, even though he would really have liked to be in the studio, opera blasting, bathed in cigar smoke.
He had it figured out, too. He would back the paintmobile (his van with the seats removed) up to a view, open the hatch (opera blazing over the van’s stereo) and set up. Add coffee and a two dollar cigar and he was happy as a clam.
Of course, you don’t always get what you want, and sometimes you have to lug your junk away from the road and carry your slender comforts into the unforgiving jaws of Mother Nature, to be chewed upon until martini time. We were in the Adirondacks * once, set up by a small river and hard at work. Everything seemed to be running smoothly until I hear behind me the sounds of muffled, seething outrage. I turn, and there is Tom, hunched over his palette, mixing colors furiously, surrounded by butterflies. Hundreds of them. He is swearing, trying to paint, they are all over his hat, his box, on the palette itself, on his brush, in a cloud around his head. Every few minutes he’d rear back and rake through the bastards with his painting knife, but it was no use.
So that was Tom, too. Not always a perfect fit, but always ready to give it a shot. And lots of nice surprises came to light, lots of good work, and lots of martinis earned. A good life.