Remembering Jean Bass

March 29, 2011

Jean Bass

A dear friend, Jean Bass, died a few weeks ago. During a memorial gathering friends and family members expressed their deep love and admiration for a very special lady. Eulogies delivered by the family spoke to a life well lived, especially demonstrating the family’s penchant for good humor and an artful life. I was deeply honored to be asked to deliver a eulogy. It follows:

“In the fall of 1971, I met Jean. I was a newly hired art teacher for the Topeka Public Schools. She was a blessing to me then and will continue to be to the end of my days. Jean became a good friend and mentor; she shared her stories, and taught me how to teach and to trust my self-expression. What a gift!

She showed me that there is no separation between life and art. To step inside of the Bass home is to be engulfed in a unique space of personal eloquence. Little can be seen in Jim and Jean’s home that doesn’t show the critical eye and masterful hands of two creative and lovely people.

Every morning I wake viewing a felt tapestry of blue sky, white clouds and gold threads hanging by my bed. Jean once asked me to return it so she could add elements to it; letting me know that we never quite finish a piece, we just allow it to be.

In the classroom Jean would dissect the visual world, teaching an appreciation of line, shape, texture, color and form. In her most recent wall hangings, you can see the pleasure she took in those elements, creating fabric artworks that echoed her world. This room (the church) shows how she would intertwine the symbols of people, place, faith and community into beautiful tapestries, visually enriching our space.

She has left us with many gifts. Among the most precious was her constant encouragement to embrace life fearlessly. “You can do that,” she would say. We are so lucky to have had Jean in our lives and to have tangible, visual moments of that life to enrich our own journey.”

Jean was constantly creating, leaving a substantial body of work. It can be viewed, along with the work of her husband, sculptor Jim Bass at

The following is part of the copy from Jean’s obituary;

“Jean was a lifelong artist and educator. A skilled jeweler and painter, she was most noted for her public tapestries, included in many local collections, including: Mulvane Art Museum, Topeka Public Library, First United Methodist Church, First Congregational Church, First Presbyterian Church of McPherson, Ks. and Leavenworth Mutual Savings.

Jean taught art at Topeka High School for 38 years where she enjoyed helping students discover and develop their own artistic abilities. In 1965 Jean married sculptor Jim Bass. Together they crafted a rural home and artists’ studio where they intertwined art with family life, raising two children.

She had great love for and pride in her family. Jean is survived by her husband Jim of 45 years. Her daughter Jaminda Holmes, a clothing designer, and husband Jimmy, live in Kansas City with their two children Micah and Quilla. Son Joren Bass, an architect, and his wife Beth reside in Portland, Oregon. She also leaves behind her dear sister Glenda Bower and husband Bruce of Topeka as well as her nephew Brian Gay and his family of Prairie Village, Ks.”

Life is short and getting shorter. If you’re working on a dream or have “stuff” on your bucket list still to do,  remember Jean’s mantra, “I can do that” and get started.

On Target

  • Oil on Ampersand 2″ Cradle Board
  • 48″ x 24″, diptych
  • In a private collection
  • 24″ x 12″ (image size) digital prints available for purchase – $395

Whenever I drive through Hannibal, Missouri, I like to take the time to savor some part of the place. If I’m lucky, it is time with a friend, but there are many pleasures including spectacular views of the Mississippi River and it’s eastern valley. On one occasion I was at the lighthouse when I noticed a sign inviting me into a neighboring artist’s studio. The woman was a weaver and with every shuttle thrust to weave the weft, she spoke the intention that the patron had requested. Many created works are full of intention. “On Target” was created as a representation of gratitude for life’s blessings and a visual representation of future goals. There’s power in visualizing our intentions and I appreciate the opportunity to create paintings around them.