In May 1997, American Artist Magazine published a long article on my nude paintings. Great, I thought, I shall be famous for a month among the other artists trying to be noticed.
Several letters of praise, throughout this beautiful month of May put a smile on my face. And then there was one in particular that caught me by surprise….
A short letter from Fred Baser enquiring about painting classes in my studio.
At the time, I had only 3 or 4 friends coming every Wednesday afternoon to study with me. Fred brought a whole new atmosphere to the place! What a character, what a gentleman!! Every Wednesday had stories, discussions about art….
He had fought in World War II, flying the too famous B17 over Europe, traveled the world through his career, had an unconditional love for art. So much to tell...
Fred was very kin on explaining that some were artists and others just painters, and that it is wise to know the difference!
He always enjoyed the “Marcellisms” (the recommendations I would constantly repeat to my students) as he called them, reciting them loudly for all the "rookies" to hear, even wore a T-shirt with some of them printed on it!
Fred had impeccable attendance: every Wednesday, right on time, ready to paint, bringing along a lunch box carefully prepared by his loving wife (she never forgot the pickle nor the cookie, believe me!)
We had intense, serious conversations, laughters, many good pieces of artwork came to be executed. We had a beautiful friendship. Fred would always be positive and encouraging to me, enjoying the classic music playing during the sessions (which later on were switched for some Frank Sinatra’s songs!).
Thirteen years of a very rich friendship…….
Many new students came to join our sessions, I even had to find a bigger place. Fred followed the “Studio’, made me very proud as a teacher, winning several awards (especially the one in Salmagundi, New York!).
Every painting had a reason to be, something to drive Fred to take the challenge, like the oil with the flying fortress, of which he made a ‘Giclee” print for his war buddy “Squeaky”.
So many stories, so many great times….
Everybody loved Fred, and Fred loved everybody. He made my place a joyful atelier, where birthdays, Christmas and other occasions were celebrated , especially Fred’s birthdays, as we were all looking up to him..
Fred loved life. And he had a beautiful one. Fred had it all: a beautiful and lovely wife, great children, great career, talent, many friends, everything.
During the past few years, Fred was still present, most Wednesdays…. Even though he had been told to restrict his driving to short trips... The painting was getting slower, but he enjoyed the studio so much! The “girls” would carry his easel and his paint box, I would help him up the stairs… Until the very last Wednesday he could have…
I miss him. We all miss him. I am glad that he did not remain bed ridden too long, I am relieved that he looked tall until the end, because Fred was a proud man.....
His absence is painful.
Farewell, my friend. Fly high.