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 and into 2011.
Today we feature Kyle Stevenson.
In Profound Appreciation
I’m sure that few of us who have learned from and worked for Tom will forget the combined smell of old cigar and minerals spirits, or his penchant for Bounty paper towels, or the creak of his studio floor, or the peculiar gray of his still-life shelf. I personally will never forget mixing his martinis, making his lunchtime sandwiches, or photographing and cataloguing his paintings.
I had the privilege of working for (and being influenced by) Tom in the late nineties as one of the earlier alumni to come from Houghton College. As a Houghton student under Ted Murphy I was introduced to him during one of many studio visits that Ted arranged for his painting classes, when I promptly decided that the life of an artist wasn’t so bad. Several years after I graduated from Houghton I was between jobs and got a call from Ted on a Sunday night in early September asking if I was interested in being the studio assistant for Tom Buechner. Out of the blue. Amazing.
The next morning I was driving East to Corning after a memorable conversation with Ted. He said, “Kyle, I value my relationship with Buechner very highly, so I have three words for you: “Don’t fuck up!”
Thankfully, I didn’t.
The next two years ended up being some of the most important of my life. Though I had a firm foundation from my time at Houghton, it was Tom who taught me how to paint. He has been a profound influence on the direction that my life has taken in the 10 years since I left his studio for graduate school. He has, quite simply, helped me to become me.
Kyle Stevenson, 2010