We all move through life, meeting many souls on our journey. When we are able to touch someones heart, through our kindness, joy de vivre, our art, humor, or in some other way – a teaching, a piece of us remains with that person, even long after we are gone.  It is a great sadness and loss when a soul moves from our daily presence to the unseen, that unique individual and their vision of the world will never be duplicated. The greatest joy is that we have shared a moment or more of eternity with them. I am grateful for the small window of time I had with John, it was a special gift and will always be with me.

-Bob Masla, Casa de los Artistas, Boca de Tomatlan, Dec. 2, 2012

Dear Boca Workshoppers,

It is with a very heavy heart that we inform you that John Bienvenu
died unexpectantly  November 30th.  Evidently, he had been sick since
August but seemed to be improving. We have heard from some members of
the art community in Lafayette, LA and there is a palpable sense of
loss. They mentioned that he painted until the end and continued to
tackle life with zeal.  One person also mentioned that he raved about
his week at the Casa and talked frequently about what a great time he
had there.

We often laugh about John rolling around the surf in the cove without
spilling a drop of wine. We will definitely miss him.  We do not know
anything about arrangements. I checked the obituaries for St
Martinville, LA, but nothing is listed as of this morning.

I was not able to locate Fredericka’s (misspelled, I’m sure) email, so
I ask that someone please let her know.  We hope the rest of our
little group is healthy and happy and wish you a wonderful holiday

Kind Regards,
Diane and Sterling Edwards

Dear Casa Family,
Thank you for sharing memories and photos of John Bienvenu. We have posted a continued Memoria to him with your photos and comments here and on our Casa Blog,  please add your comments and thoughts.

We had received the above email from Artist/Workshop Facilitator Sterling Edwards on Dec. 2 that John Bienvenu had died unexpectedly on Nov. 30John -.
We would like to take the space here on our Casa Blog to honor John with words and pictures from those who shared memories of the Casa Experience with him, and any others that wish to share in his memory – please do so. It is a testament to his personality and spirit that he touched each of us deeply.

I had only known John very shortly, the week he had spent at the Casa and numerous emails prior and then after. Aside from being an artist, John was the President of the Lafayette Art Association, (“a membership of 200 artists and some connoisseurs”) and he was a patron of artists, purchasing works from Sterling and commissioning me to paint him a watercolor that is “typical of your style and your home” – I rarely receive such “non direction and faith” in a commission, (see the image below).  He was a generous spirit and what appeared to me as a very unique  person. An individual who was kind and generous with a wry and playful sense of humor, living life boldly, embracing it colorfully and with unique whimsey – as he did in his paintings, (when others got a massage, he was having a pedicure and his toenails painted blue -as a statement).

John entered the waves during our picnic at Colomitos Cove carrying a glass of wine and was tossed and tumbled about, but held his glass high, “not a drop was spilt”.

“Such a loss to the art community.
Enjoyed John’s sense of humor and kindness last year at the Casa
We will raise a toast to John next year, on the beach!
Sending a picture of John at the Cove, where not a drop was spilled!” (picture above)
Warm regards

He mentioned to me about health issues, but never complained about anything. What for me is a 3 minute walk from the Casa to the apts. that he and Stan stayed in, I’m sure was a struggle for him, but later he wrote to me saying, “Still having those health issues. Found unsuspected heart blockage, no pains in Mexico, now on meds for that. Had upper GI to see what is wrong with my throat.  I think more of a nuisance than health concern.” then later wrote in regards to whether he liked the painting I sent him, “Yes and yes..my LAA peeps got to see your work and I plan on showing it at one of our satellite galleries along with Sterlings painting that I bought….thanks for checking in, you were so attentive to me at the Casa and I got stronger-winded each day I had to scale across that terrain….
masla watecolor Hadley Farm workers

Masla – “Hadley Farm Workers”, 1/2 sheet watercolor paper commissioned by John

John told me that he loved painting and was always eager to learn knew things that he might incorporate into his unique style. Though he had signed up for Sterlings workshop, he had asked me to share some of my technique with him on the side as well. He also had a passion for sharing, and through-out the workshop had given me a few colors and some paper that he thought I should try and wanted my opinion of.

John seemed also genuinely excited to be sharing his own work with others;
“My exhibit goes up Monday at City Hall, over 40 pieces!!  Wish you could all be here for one day.  I will try to send some images.  Boca well represented…”

John's El DiabloThis is an image John sent me of a piece while he was still working on it. It captured the “Boca Energy” -, and was titled from one of the rocks at Los Arcos Coral Reef -“El Diablo”, (the figure in blue on the rock on horizon in the upper right of the painting -he actually nailed the shape that is in the actual stone quite accurately).”I am honored to say I am having a one-man show at the Governor’s Mansion, all award winners, and recently judged the Southern Gardenia Art exhibit at Barnes & Noble, my highest honor so far….plus I have a painting that placed in a juried show, my sixth  in three years….”During a short video interview with John and then Pat at the Casa, (see it by clicking here to go to Casaartistas Youtube), I asked John, If he was having a good time, he replied,  “I’m having a fabulous time. I feel sorry for the people that didn’t come”.

-John, Thank you for sharing your special gifts with us.

“So very sad as I too enjoyed his unique art style and view of life. As my room mate we spent time going to and from our room, it was very hard for him but he was a trooper and would not move as he knew he could do it every day and in the dark, we both loved our new friends and the Boca experience. He was the one responsible for me stepping outside my confront zone as we had our toes done by the same lady as an expression of being bold and less structured. He had plans to visit me in central California next summer.
Please pass this on to his family..I am proud to have spent a week with a very warm and giving person. I would also like to obtain one of his paintings as he had promised to send me one if I really did like his work. Watching him try to put some big brush Sterling teachings in his work in Bob’s studio on several evenings will be a lasting memory. He would say to me, OK  Stan I went darker do you really think I need to go more darker? We would laugh about his very fine english skills. I would tell him it was more better with more darker just as Sterling promised. He was so proud of the Sterling flower demo he took home as a prize.
John made a very positive impression on me and how I look at art and the creative process. I hope a family member is following his email box and will let me know where I might make a donation in his name.
My very best to all of you.”
Stan Fisher”]Dear Sterling and Diane,

Jill just mailed the sad news that we lost John Bienvenu in the art community.  I enjoyed this interesting man immensely.  His dry humor and lively spirit added so much to the wonderful time we had at the Casa.  His paintings were unique and he stuck to his own style with great strength.  I have often thought of him and his excellent sportsmanship throughout the week – including not spilling the wine into the water!

Thank you for letting us know.  With warm regards and great regrets that I will not be at the Casa next year,

Sincerely,   Friederike

ImageGetting ready for dinner at Ramones Huachinango restaurant on the beach

John is a picture of his determination in walking to the Boca de Tomatlan High School one morning. His tenacity was shown again in not spilling his drink in the cove as Jill recalled. He matched that feat by holding up his drink during the turbulence on the flight home. (Wasn’t fast enough to get that photo. Caught him sipping the saved drink seconds after. I was sitting two rows behind him.) I loved his serendipity in his humor and his variation of pointillist painting. His bright pastels caused me to smile and “be happy.” Will miss this artist friend.Image
What a trooper! – PatImageJohn resting on a tree in Vallarta while other shoped
Dear Bob,

Thank you for your thoughtful note of John – I just heard about it from Jill yesterday via Sterling and Diane.
Yes, John added a lot of spice and joy to our time at the Casa.  He was a wonderful, deep thinking person and we had great conversations.  I like what you said regarding touching someones heart and soul.  We were such a diversified group of people that week, yet melded together so well.   We really liked  and supported each
other.  John was absolutely amazing in all he undertook with the rest of us.  His dry sense of humor and attitude towards life were remarkable.   He will always be there in “my Casa group and experience”.  It was a wonderful time – thanks to you, your wonderful staff, and Aiyana and her friend and all of us.
I am sorry not to be coming again, Bob and Monica, but my age is catching up with me and I am comfortable with my choice, if also very sad at the same time – such is the bittersweetness of life narrowing, but being very special in many other ways.
I greet you with deep thoughts, warm feelings of love and sadness and joy – because whatever it is, life is still so beautiful – and I know John is well wherever he is now !
ImageJohn with his prize -Sterlings Floral demo.
Hi Bob, I looked at my history file and found some special John
moments. Feel free to send these to his family and use them in your
newletter. I was thinking about my past and the hundreds of events and
workshops I have taken. Your adventure for the week with a small group
of people was one of the most relaxing and educational workshops I
ever attended. You set the table for us to bond and develop lasting
friendships. Thanks, Stan
ImageJohn walking back from the High School in the Jungle
Imagetoenails painted Red!!
Please ad your comments and memories.