The role of the artist is to connect with the human spirit. My favorite quote about that is from Pablo Picasso, “Art is the lie that tells the truth.” Richard ‘Rich’ Beyer was the embodiment of that ideal.
Master sculptor Richard S. Beyer passed this last Monday, April 9, 2012 in New York City at the age of 86. He was one of my artistic heroes and a genius at displaying subjects of the Pacific Northwest that typified our roots.
Without a doubt his most popular work is “Waiting for the Interurban” in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. This cast aluminum piece depicts 5 people and a dog waiting for a trolley that never comes. The irony being that the Interurban was a (once upon a time) rail system that connected downtown Seattle with its inner city neighborhoods to the surrounding areas and outlying towns. It was a great public transportation system.
Beyer’s sculptures are numerous around Washington. Often the critics deemed his work ‘populist’, but who cares what they think. His work was well liked by the people and he had a tremendous following.
Born in 1925, Beyer grew up in Roosevelt’s New Deal era and he maintained a caring and fondness for the common person throughout his life and work.
Beyer was brilliant at capturing the essence of place and presenting the wisdom and humor of the everyday people who inhabited the place. His work is often whimsical and never short on satire.
Beyer was schooled in economics and moved to Seattle in 1957 to work on a Ph D at the University of Washington. As an artist he was mostly self taught. His love of carving and sculpture won over and he established himself as a master sculptor in 1978. His works always tell a story about real life or the myths and tall tales about the place where they reside.
In my little burg of Renton at Tonkin Park just south of downtown is “Donkey Run Away From The Mines.” (1984) True to form, Renton was a coal mining town and donkeys were used for a time and there are a few local tall tales about them.
Rich, you will be missed. Thanks for leaving your smiles out there for all to see.
"Art is seeing common things transformed by love, and the best public art belongs to the story of a community." ~ Rich Beyer.
Links to Richard Beyer's life and work...