Friends moving on

The author remembers two more people who’ve died recently

I’m old enough now that I’ve started reading the death notices regularly, to see whether anyone I know has died, though nowadays I’m more likely to learn about it via Facebook.

A few weeks ago it was Rudy Giscombe, about whom I wrote in this space on June 23 (“Remembering Rudy”). Then, a couple of weeks ago, I attended a memorial service for Jim Marshall, a Chico native who was one of the bravest men I’ve known. Despite suffering since he was a teenager from crippling rheumatoid arthritis, he was a passionate warrior for social justice throughout his adult life. He was 67 when he died, of complications from pneumonia.

Now it’s Scott Teeple, the prolific local muralist whose work, as my friend Tom Gascoyne once wrote, is “easily the most viewed of any artist ever in this arts-heavy town.” It’s hard to travel far in Chico, especially downtown, without seeing one of Scott’s delightful murals. He died Sunday of colon cancer at the age of 64. (See Tom’s Newslines article about Scott’s death on page 9.)

I had many long and pleasant conversations with Scott over the years and even wrote a couple of stories about him and his work. What always struck me, besides his talent and simple human sweetness, was how close to the edge he lived—no health insurance, no steady employment, going from job to job with no guarantee there would be another around the corner. It was the price he paid for doing what he loved to do. It’s a shame that a man who gave so much beauty to Chico had to struggle so hard to survive here.

But he will be remembered, not only by his legions of friends and the two daughters he loved so much, but also by all those in the years to come who will pass by his murals and enjoy them for their artistry, their historical authenticity and, often, their humor.

Follow that story! Readers may remember an item in this space a few weeks ago about the Annie’s Glen tunnel and the city’s plan to fill a remaining blank spot in its tiling with one of those bronze plaques city officials put up to immortalize themselves. Well, I have an update.

Janice Hofmann, the local ceramics artist (and owner of All Fired Up ceramics studio) who coordinated the beautiful tile work produced by local kids, recently informed me by e-mail that the item had “caused the wheel to squeak” and a plaque was now in place.

It’s not a traditional brass plaque—that was too expensive, Hofmann writes—but a ceramic one made by Hofmann herself. At first she didn’t want to do it because small hand lettering with a thick glaze was too difficult, but then Lama Losang came to town to create another of his mandalas “one grain of sand at a time,” she writes, “and I figured I could take the task on as an act of devotion to my beloved town.”

The new plaque does what a traditional plaque does but so prettily and gracefully that it fits right in with the rest of the tiling. Check it out.

Robert Speer is editor of the CN&R.