An Untimely Death

Portraits, scratchboard
Daniel Kent Lehenbauer 1959 – 2021

There were several events of note happening on January 20, 2021. One bringing hope, the other, was pure tragedy. Joe Biden was inaugurated as President of the United States and my brother, Kent, died of COVID-19 pneumonia. I do blame the administration of Donald Trump for treating COVID-19 as a public relations problem, and not the pandemic it is. Policy leaders in 2020 caused too many folks to dismiss the necessity of taking COVID-19 seriously. I heard several people say, “If I get the virus, I don’t think I’ll get very sick.” Even if that was true, s/he was not giving a thought to a more vulnerable person to whom they could carry the virus. Kent must have received a heavy dose of the virus during an event. Having difficulty breathing, he entered the hospital’s ER and had a bed in a hallway for several days before being transferred to the ICU where he spent the final days of his life intubated, fearful and alone. It was not a good way to die.

His dedicated caregivers were overworked and probably exhausted; constantly in danger of catching and spreading the virus themselves due to lack of safety supplies. The CDC as of today, April 20, 2021, reports 545,750 plus Kent’s death, on death certificates listing COVID-19 as the cause or a contributing factor. The vaccine, once herd immunity is reached, will allow us to return to public places. Does the safety of the community play into a person’s refusal to be vaccinated? The last administration did a great deal of harm to reputable organizations that we rely upon during a health crisis. Would folks refusing to be vaccinated also have refused the polio vaccine? How does it benefit media outlets to put out false reports on the pandemic? There are a lot of unanswered questions belonging to this tragedy.

This wonderful man, Kent, loved by many, is gone in circumstances that could have been avoided. He was one of those guys who paid attention, made you laugh and created fun. He went to the trouble of hiding lots of stuff (including his bowling ball w/ initials) in his friend’s mulch pile; covering his brother-in-law’s name on the coffee mug with masking tape after being chided for drinking from another’s mug; acting as my re-po man when 2 paintings stolen from an Aspen gallery were located in Santa Fe. The stories are many, as were his interests. A regret is that I didn’t do a portrait of Kent during his life. Here I attempt to show not only his handsome face, but his love of life; the open road, biking, water, airplanes, the Sandia Mountains (where his ashes will be scattered) to name a few. The pandemic has provided many lessons, primarily, take nothing for granted. Please get vaccinated. Don’t spread the virus. Perhaps Kent’s untimely death will save others from the same kind of death.

Remembering my brother, Jay

Remembering Family

My brother, John (Jay) Lewis Lehenbauer, died on October 25, 2020, the day after he and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. He seemed to have waited for that hallmark, puckering his lips for a final kiss. I painted this tribute piece for Jay and his lovely wife, Bonita, after my daughter’s wedding a decade ago. Both Bonita and Jay cook. Bonita is famous for her pastries (she made the lemon and chocolate cupcakes for Laura’s wedding as seen in the painting); Jay for his spaghetti and meatballs and barbecue. He was a competitive barbecuer which is a ton of work, but provides hours of telling stories and has a tasty reward.

I wrote the following few memories of Jay, although now, so many more are coming to mind. Adventurous and self-assured but always with the ability to laugh at himself, he’s a treasure I’m going to miss.

______________________________

John (Jay) Lewis Lehenbauer

My brother was two years younger. I’m sure therapists could speak of predictable sibling rivalry, but all I can recall now is how Jay made me laugh. His humor was revealed in the way he lived as well as his stories with their descriptive details and punch lines delivered with perfect timing.

His advice was similar. Complaining about my flashing “check engine light” once, he handed me a piece of electrician’s tape.

The North KC Auto Auction cafeteria was one of his many business endeavors. I worked for him a couple of times. Jay cooked while the food was served by his loyal elderly staff. I think he gave them a ride to and from the senior center. They loved him and knew what he expected. I was dishing out mashed potatoes. My neighbor Gladys, the gravy lady, said my brother wanted to speak to me in the kitchen, which was steamy and busy. Jay was flipping pork chops, giving instruction, stirring pots…very active. Looking up, he caught my eye and smiling, said, “Feed them. Don’t fatten them.”

Having had the privilege of knowing him in his early years, I’ll share two “Open the Door” stories.

Why the bee was chasing him, I don’t know, but Jay was racing around Grandma and Grandpa Lehenbauer’s farmhouse. Leaping over the sidewalk between the smokehouse and the porch he made at least one full circle of the house yelling “Open the Door” in every open window he passed.

Why the rooster was chasing him, I don’t know, but Jay was racing around Papa Tuley’s and Aunt Lillian’s farmhouse. He yelled “Open the Door” as he raced by the kitchen windows with the rooster 6 paces behind. He was neither stung nor spurred during these experiences.

I did make him cry once when dad was teaching us to fish and I caught Jay’s ear. Ouch!

Thinking back, it occurs to me that Jay rarely complained. And he took the blame for things when he could easily have pointed the finger at me. He was a glass half full guy and made whoever had the pleasure of his company, feel the same way.

I wish we could say, as Mark Twain did, that rumors of his death had been greatly exaggerated. I’d love to see his smile again, but it will live with me in memory. What a lucky sister I am.

Little Blue Dot

Earth from Space
Earth from beyond Saturn

On keeping things in perspective, I’m sharing this piece of wisdom which came to me via a daily newsletter from Mr. Hubbell. I don’t think he would mind if I share his comments along with Carl Sagan’s.

In 1977, the US launched the interplanetary probe, Voyager I. By 1980, Voyager I had passed Saturn and was heading to the outer reaches of our solar system. The great science communicator, Carl Sagan, proposed that NASA/JPL swivel Voyager I to look back at Earth to take one last photo of our home planet. After initial resistance from NASA, Sagan got his wish. Voyager I took one of the most important photographs in human history: A picture of Earth from a vantage 3.7 billion (can that be correct, 3.7 billion?) miles away. The resulting photograph shows Earth as a tiny dot suspended in a sunbeam. (The “sunbeam” is a band of sunlight reflected in the camera lens.) Carl Sagan published a book about the photo, “Pale Blue Dot.” In his introduction, Sagan wrote movingly about seeing Earth from interplanetary space. It is a beautiful reflection on our place in the cosmos.

Sagan wrote:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot (for human existence and the lives of so many species), the only home we’ve ever known.

Artist in Residency in Nebraska

Artist in Residence, Land Use, Miscellaneous, National Park

Homestead Poster Image

Well, that was fun. Home from 2 weeks as Artist in Residence at Homestead National Monument of America .  It allowed me to experience the site and see what kind of work evolved. You can view the initial work HERE. I’ll post the an oil painting in spring of 2020.

The park’s press release:

Artists Selected for Homestead National Monument of America’s

2019 Artist-in-Residence Program

Homestead National Monument of America is excited to announce the artists chosen for the 2019 Artist-in-Residence program. This is Homestead’s eleventh year offering artists the opportunity to live at the monument and create works of art inspired by the Homestead story and its environment.  Homestead is just one of many National Park Service sites that host resident artists to help connect visitors with the park’s meanings using a variety of art forms. Plan to visit the monument this spring through fall to interact with this year’s Artists-in-Residence while they work and create.

This year nine talented artists have been selected to live and work at the monument. They are:

  • Theresa Hottel, writer from New York, New York, March 5-18
  • Cara Calvert-Thomas, painter from Corona, California, April 26- May 9
  • Jeffrey Lockwood, writer from Laramie, Wyoming, May 14- May 27
  • Benjamin Justis, composer from Lawrence, Kansas, May 30- June 12
  • Heather Heckel, painter from Massapequa, New York, July 16- July 29
  • Vickie MacMillan, barn quilt painter from Olympia, Washington, August 15-August 28
  • Nancy Marshall, painter from Lawrence, Kansas, September 12- September 25
  • Marjorie Savage, writer from Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, September 26- October 9
  • Benjamin Bohnsack, woodblock printer from Marquette, Michigan, October 11-October 31

“The Artist-in-Residence program is extremely valuable.  It gives park visitors an opportunity to not just see Homestead and its story themselves, but see it through the eyes of the artist, which can be very moving and powerful,” stated monument’s Superintendent Mark Engler.

Remember, Homestead National Monument of America has an exciting schedule of events planned for 2019. Keep up with the latest information by following us on Twitter (HomesteadNM), Facebook (HomesteadNM), and Instagram (HomesteadNPS).

Homestead National Monument of America is a unit of the National Park Service located four miles west of Beatrice, Nebraska and 45 miles south of Lincoln. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free of charge. For additional information, please call 402-223-3514 or visit http://www.nps.gov/home/.

Remembering Jack and Ann

Miscellaneous

Jack and Ann

There a lovely synchronicity when two lovers leave their mortal coils nearly together. Jack Ozegovic died on a December Saturday and Ann Carlin Ozegovic died the following Monday. Both were wicked smart, active, inquisitive, funny, social, opinionated but good listeners and wonderful artists. Their home was welcoming and their frequent gatherings were salons where you met interesting folks, discussed ideas amidst gorgeous art with a spread of delicious food on the table. Jack and Ann had an amazing cadre of friends who, at the end, stepped up to help them keep the faith that health would return, and once that was no longer possible, those same friends supported Jack and Ann on their journey out.

No longer will we see Ann out exercising, registering voters, singing in the choir or Jack calling to say they’re celebrating Tito’s birthday or to announce a meeting of his Men’s Intellectual Improvement Group. Many of us will miss them dearly.

I painted this oil of Jack and Ann Carlin Ozegovic about 20 years ago.

Exhibit, Summer 2018

Miscellaneous, Show Announcements

2018_HannibalShow_Email_3_web

Designed by Laura Zimney

My work was shown in the summer of 2018 Hannibal, Missouri’s Hannibal Arts Council exhibit space. My co-exhibitors were delightful St. Louis artists, Ben Bradshaw, ceramist, and Bryan Payne, doodler and found object seeker. Their careers will be worth following.

Show announcement above designed by Laura Zimney. The Hannibal Arts Council designed the show announcement below. Thanks to the sponsors.

Hannibal show, rivers treasure e-flyer, summer 2018

Women’s March

Political

Women standing up for their rights.

Women standing up for their rights.

Celebrating Women's hard won right to vote in the USA

Celebrating Women’s hard won right to vote in the USA

The two young women toasting their right to vote in the bottom painting are the same women who joined several million folks around the world to protest the proposed rollback of hard fought rights for women and for the environment with the 2016 elections. The national movement to gain women the right to vote took 72 years. You can learn more about it here.

The Flint Hills Maps Project, High School, Middle School and Elementary

Ampersand, Animals, Art and Science, Birds in Paintings, Flowers, Flowers in Paintings, Illustration, Insects in Paintings, Land Use, Links, Paintings, Paintings & Verse, Story or Poem

Living on the edge of the prairie offers an escape to a place of wonder. Wendell Berry, author and bioregionalist, says, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”

The largest remaining stand of tallgrass prairie is found in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma. The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation has created the Maps in the Schools project. The maps will hang in the schools of the Flint Hills showing their particular location and, depending on the grade level, speak to some special aspect of the place, the life, the history and/or the science.

The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation has honored Emily Connell, Project Director, and Annie Wilson, Project Coordinator and High School Program Educator, by naming them 2020 Friends of the Flint Hills. Since in-person gatherings are limited due to the pandemic, a film was produced by Dave Kendall and Laura Mead. Others (and definitely not all) folks working on the project Pam Collinge – Middle School Educator; Molly Wold – Elementary Educator; John Dunham – Mapmaker; Laura Zimney – Graphic Designer. If you are interested in knowing more about the project, contact the Flint Hills Discovery Center Map and Education Program.

High School Flint Hills Illustration

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, High School Illustration

  • Original Artwork – Oil on Ampersand
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
    and Nancy Lehenbauer Marshall

Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, High School

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, High School Map

  • Print on Paper
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration size on a 48” x 48” map
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation

Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project, Middle School

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project Middle School Illustration

    •  Original Artwork – Oil on Ampersand
    • 31” x 17.25” illustration
    • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
      and Nancy Lehenbauer Marshall

There are over 50 things to identify in this Middle School illustration. An ID chart will be available in the educational materials that accompany the maps.

Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Middle School Illsutration

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Middle School

  • Print on Paper
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration size on a 48” x 48” map
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation

Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project, Elementary Illustration

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project, Elementary Illustration

  •  Original Artwork – Oil on Ampersand
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
    and Nancy Lehenbauer Marshall

Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Elementary

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Elementary

  • Print on Paper
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration size on a 48” x 48” map
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation

If you would like to support this project, please contact The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation.

Remembering George Paley

Miscellaneous

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George and Nancy

George Paley died this week. What joy he brought to his friendships. Encouraging, always curious, he loved sharing his ideas and projects with others. You could join him in the journey or not. While exhibiting casualness and a wry sense of humor, he brought a vital energy and creativity to his endeavors. His efforts were full throttle forward. Many will miss George terribly, but will take a deep breath to shrink the lump in our throats, and be grateful for his love and his friendship.
This is a link to Joanna Hlavacek’s lovely tribute to George and Judy in our local paper.

Printmaker, Artist, Friend, Sally Piller

Miscellaneous

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Sally Piller in the Flint Hills

Yesterday a friend updated a group on Sally’s health status, so I knew she was in hospice. But upon hearing of her passing, a somber cloud settled around me. Now her delightful presence and fun company will be only a memory. Described as a force, Sally was willing to jump headlong into whatever project captured her imagination. She was a skilled artist who produced superb work; strong, beautiful prints. One of the reasons I love and will always admire Sally, is the way she made me feel about myself and my work. She lifted my spirit with her attitude. I bet she’s pissed about dying before she was ready and, frankly, I’m a little pissed too. Sally’s work can be seen here.