Several years ago over a course of time a number of participants at various Casa workshops had mentioned the name of Canadian artist Robert Genn, talking about his inspirational twice weekly newsletters and wonderful artist resource site: The Painters Key’s. One very accomplished artist participant, Iskra Johnson, who was at the Casa in December of 2009, had a premium artist website on The Painters Key’s website. She had encouraged us to advertise with them and had also written a wonderful blog on her Casa experience and posted it on the site in January after she had returned home. – I checked into it and through her recommendation the Casa was placed in the Painters Keys Studios Worldwide, (click on either of those 2 links and scroll down). We have also been advertising on their workshop calendar, (they claim to reach 23,000 people from more than 115 countries, they are sincere and I believe them, click and scroll down).

So last fall we where once again thinking about artists to invite to teach at the Casa in 2015 and beyond. We try to invite artists that we feel would fit into the relaxed Boca atmosphere. We also hope they embody the philosophy of the Casa towards nurturing inspiration and the creative in the individual, both artistically, in terms of imagination and technical mastery and “spiritually”, as teacher-facilitators, mentors, in terms of relating to participants from a place of wisdom, compassion, nurturance, humor and humility. Also, we need to pay the rent, so we try to bring in artists that draw a following.
– I had become a regular reader of Roberts’ twice weekly newsletter. Not only was I, as I mentioned earlier, awed by his ability to continually produce so much and to present it concisely, (a virtue I lack), but I was equally impressed with the depth of the content. The obvious thought, scope, humility and compassion that came through his writings. This of course, does not even mention his beautiful artwork, which I had also come to admire and greatly appreciate. His ability to do with brush and paint what he so masterfully did with words. He also obviously touched people -lots of people. So it was a no-brainer, he was the first to come to mind. The questions where, would he be interested and would he even respond to my email, (some do and some don’t, and that in itself can be very revealing). After all, I thought, he must get dozens, if not more, emails daily with the reach he has with his newsletters. Would he even see mine and have the time and interest to respond? So one morning in early October of last year I wrote him a letter of introduction and invitation to the Casa.
You could imagine my surprise when in 8 minutes time I heard a bing from my computer and looked to see a response from Bob :
“Hi Bob,

Thanks for the note and the invitation. I’d love to come there but I can’t do more than I’m doing. Sorry about that-and such a wonderful place too. I’ve painted at Boca de Tomatlan many years ago and also visited “Cosmo” (Freddy Martin) at Pueblo Pacifica on your left going south before you get to Boca. Have you ever heard of him?

All the best and thanks for your friendship,

Bob”

We then continued to have a conversation of three or four more emails through the day, of which he extended an invitation for me to, from time to time, send him photos from our workshops that he would post for free along with their feature article on their clickbacks page, the second most visited page on their site.

My heart split open, the usual effect when you come in contact with an open heart, (something my wife Monica has told me was the essence and goal of being a great therapist and human being). Bob and I, (and I use the name Bob, as I assume, like myself, he used Robert in formal settings and Bob among friends), had only a few brief lines of personal contact, but in those lines I felt great kindness, generosity of spirit, humility and wisdom coming from him. When less than a month later his newsletter arrived with “The Bomb”, revealing his recent terminal diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, tears welled in my eyes and I cried. I felt I was loosing a dear and good friend before I really got to spend much time with him. I also felt the sense of great loss for the world and the art community in particular. I quote myself from an earlier blog, but it is a perennial truth that i worded well:

“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 regret that I didn’t have many more personal exchanges with Bob and that he was not able to join us at the Casa, I know he would have loved it and felt right at home.
Though Bob has moved on he has touched thousands with his art and his writings and his spirit will continue to do so. Most notably, when he first received his diagnosis he wrote that his daughter Sara would be doing more of the writing of the newsletters, perhaps 1 per week and using another from his archives, (in this manner they say there will be enough material for another 25 years). When the next newsletter arrived, I hadn’t realized she had written it till I had gotten to the end. The voice seemed so familiar. I am grateful that Sara will continue her fathers legacy and I have no doubt that she will enrich it and add to it with a voice that is uniquely her own.