The bomb

 

October 25, 2013

 

Dear Rodney,

 

On Saturday morning, 10:30 to be exact, I was painting at my easel when a quiet knock came to my upper studio door. It was my friend and neighbor, Dr. Bob Cheyne, who also happens to be our family doctor.

 

As soon as I saw his face I knew something was up. "We got the results of your CAT scan," he said.

 

I ask him to sit down. Without belabouring our conversation, I can sum up what he said in five words:

 

"Pancreatic cancer--perhaps a year."

 

I thanked him and mentioned what a tough job he had. "It isn't always easy," he said.

 

Carol and our kids David, Sara and James were informed right away. Naturally they are all rallying around and we are off to oncologists and specialists to see if anything might be done. I didn't have the intention of leaving the planet so soon.

 

Having been through similar situations with several artists who happened to be dear friends, one of my concerns is that substandard Robert Genn paintings don't get out onto the market. Sara, who immediately flew to Vancouver from New York, is with me this very minute--helping divide a lifetime of work into "destroy," "sign" and "keep." Many works of sentimental value are for family and friends, of course. Others will march out of the studio over time.

 

Having been through similar situations with several artists who happened to be dear friends, one of my concerns is that substandard Robert Genn paintings don't get out onto the market. Sara, who immediately flew to Vancouver from New York, is with me this very minute--helping divide a lifetime of work into "destroy," "sign" and "keep." Many works of sentimental value are for family and friends, of course. Others will march out of the studio over time.

 

Looking into all storage areas, we find field sketches from practically every province in Canada--the Rockies, the Mackenzie River, Lake of the Woods and other favourite spots. There are oils and acrylics of the USA, Spain, Ireland, France, Argentina and Japan, to name but a few. There are portraits, drawings, lithos, serigraphs, lots of experimental work and one-shot wonders. It's fun. Sad but fun.

 

For years I've been telling artists to do it now, not later. Today we find ourselves doing it now.

 

And what's going to happen? I'm certainly cancelling speeches and appearances over the next few months. We've got too much to do right here. And what about your twice-weekly letters? We're working on different concepts. Right now you can be assured I'll write to you as often as I'm able.

 

Best regards,

 

Robert

 

PS: "Life sometimes gives you a second chance." (Maya Angelou)

 

Esoterica: From the get-go we have been aware of the value of these twice-weekly letters to artists and others. Sara has helped me with many of them. We've shared our artistic journey together and have often talked about this day. She's a professional painter in an entirely different genre. Based in New York, she's also a sought-after musician and soloist. Wonderfully, she's also a great writer and right up for the job. One of the ideas we're tossing around is that she start off by writing once a week. The other letter would be a favourite previous one of mine. If we ran all my previous letters once a week, they would last for 27 years! Finding ourselves at new chapters in our adventure, we sincerely hope we can continue to be of service to you.