Friday, October 3, 2014

Brent Bushnell. 1940 - 2014

San Francisco has lost one of stalwarts of the art world. An artist and an environment activist, Brent Bushnell passed away last month at the age of 75.

Brent was born in Los Angeles but his parents decided to move back to Utah when he was six. When he graduated from high school, he thought about going to art school but the draft board had other plans. After a stint in the Navy, Brent came here in 1967, got his MFA at SFSU, studying with noted Bay Area sculptor Stephen de Staebler, (among others).

He raised his son as a single parent, worked as a draftsman and painted in his kitchen at night. He moved so often that he lost count, always looking for an affordable space that had room for him to paint. He was part of the first Open Studios in the mid 1970's and continued showing in Open Studios right up until 2013. His works will be in this year's Open Studios as well (see below for the date and location).

 Eventually, he was able to move into the Serta Building, a former mattress factory at 23rd and Yosemite. Over thirty artists lived there, forming an informal commune where everybody looked out for each other. The spaces were big, the windows were huge and the place was a paradise for art and community - a place which was destroyed, as were so many, by the forces of developer greed.

In San Francisco, he met his life partner, Sofia Carmi. They first met at the San Francisco International Art Fair in 1998 and then, at openings, museums, gallery openings – if it related to art, Sofia and Brent were there, constantly “running into each other.”  They shared concerns about the environment, our wanton misuse of natural resources and destruction of the wilderness. Both were, and for Sofia, still is on a journey compelled by the love of art and, for both, it was the journey together that is and is the reward.

 Moon and Borealis
 Sofia and Brent joined their lives and their art practices and were eventually married in 2011 but their partnership began long before the formal vows of marriage, They were together until the end. Brent died of pancreatic cancer at home on September 27, 2014.

Sofia Carmi set this message out earlier this week:

"Dear friends and fellow artists, (see below information on wake/casual party for Brent Bushnell)

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of my artist partner/husband Brent Bushnell, on Saturday, September 27, 2014.

Brent and I met in 1998 and have been together as partners in life and in paint for the past 14 years. Oct 3rd would have been our anniversary.  In August 2014, we learned that Brent was in the later stages of pancreatic cancer. He chose to die at our home, with the help of myself and hospice care. He has been cremated, as was his wish.

He leaves behind his son Damien, daughter-in-law Terese, grandchildren Jasper and Preston, his sisters Jill and Holly and their families

We want to thank friends and neighbors who have helped us during this difficult time. Keith and Nartan who organized this wake/party as Brent requested and everyone else who helped in  the daily support such as  Mike and Barb, Diana, Jakub, Chuck,/Chaz, Annette, Susan –Garry Lorica, Peter, Paul, Jen and Rab, Lou and Kate, Lea, Olga, Lisa, and Tanya. Also Brent’s out of town friends who provided moral support through emails and old friend from Utah, Charles and Mary. We thank my uncle David in Toronto for moral support and sister Hanna in Jerusalem who wished to be there for him in his last days. Brent went to the spirit world very fast with dignity.

We have shared a wonderful life of love, adventure, travel, discovery, painting and exhibitions of our work.

Brent was a dedicated artist and leaves behind a large body of work. He will be featured in two upcoming local art shows:

October 2nd at the Sandra Lee Gallery,
251 Post St.,#310 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Real and Surreal Group Juried Exhibit.

October 10th, at the San Francisco Zen Center,                                                                   
300 Page St., 7-9 p.m.
Memorial Exhibit

As well, our group Open Studio will be held on Oct 25th and 26th, 11-6 pm.
G2 Art Building, 1695 18th St., #316 (between Carolina and Arkansas)

An interview with Brent and I, with photos, will be published in the October issue of Potrero View (a local paper).

Brent requested that we have a party in his honor. Please join us in a celebration of his life, to be held at Project Artaud, artist building. We will have a ceremony and poetry reading, followed by a pot luck party.  Please bring food and drinks to share. Please RSVP your attendance  what food and drinks you  are planning to bring .

Sunday, October 5th, 2 p.m. ceremony 3-5 Party
Project Artaud, 499 Alabama St. (Alabama St./17th St)

If you wish to help setup, we will meet at 12:00. Please RSVP.

I would like to thank all our friends and neighbors who helped us during this difficult time.

Sofia Carmi

Obituary at the Examiner:

More of Brent's work at Art Slant:

Interview in November 2013:

Climate Changes

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