Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Great Vernon Witham, 1925-2010

Self-Portrait of Vernon Witham, Painted at Age Eighteen

Artist Vernon Witham (the painter for "Surviving Picasso," famous University of Oregon alumnus, shown in museums internationally), who has been prominently featured on Art of Santa Fe, much beloved here and in his home state of Oregon, passed away this morning after a long illness. Vernon Witham will always be remembered for his brilliant talent and originality.

Vern Witham painted in nearly every style imaginable, with supreme skill. Most of his work came from the vast depths of his mind. Vernon had architectural and engineering skills, as well, which are evidenced in his immense body of work. He designed and built a fabulous house and painting studio in Santa Fe, which he shared with his younger sister, painter Beverly Jean.

Vernon Witham's paintings and his recent #2 pencil drawings were derived from his wild, humorous, vivid imagination, from faces and animals that he had logged into his steel-trap mind throughout 84 years, which he deftly incorporated into surreal and amusing scenes. Vern had a distinct, individual style which is instantly recognizable in his artwork. Witham received a phone call from his old friend James Ivory last week, who told him that his 1950s paintings were superior to those done by Picasso during that era.

People who are very familiar with Vernon Witham's landscapes of New Mexico and Oregon will automatically visualize his unique interpretation of clouds whenever they look at the sky. I see Vern Witham's clouds up there often, in their chubby, almost human forms. Vernon saw many more magical things in the Santa Fe skies than usual during his last days. Vernon said to his sister Beverly Jean (Tiqua), while in the agony which preceded his passing into Heaven, that he saw God and knows He exists. We see God in Vern's fantastic paintings.

©M-J de Mesterton, August 2010

From the Santa Fe New Mexican, Vernon Witham's Obituary
VERNON WITHAM 1925- 2010 Vernon Witham passed away August 8, 2010 at the age of 84 succumbing to a long illness. He was born on December 6, 1925 in Eugene, Oregon. He is survived by his sister Beverly Jean Strong and niece Nancy Strong. Vernon was an accomplished painter with acclaim starting in his late 20's having showings at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, the De Young Museum and Smithsonian. He moved to Santa Fe in 1988 and continued to paint and draw until 2 weeks before his death. Vernon was much loved by all who knew him. He will be dearly missed and always in our hearts. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the supportive and caring nonprofit Coming Home Connection 418 Cerrillos Road Santa Fe, NM 87501

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Bulletin: Great Santa Fe Painter Vernon Witham, Dead at 84 Tribute to Vernon Witham, August 8th