Wednesday, July 20, 2011
My friend and mentor, Per Volquartz passed away on Sunday morning. I feel a profound sense of loss, I am lost, my spirit bereft of inspiration, adrift, at least for the moment. I weigh the cost of a flight to Pasadena, the value of seeing the body, the presence and weight of my friends at his service. Our value to each other as we find a way to carry on. My unemployment and my lack of miles ... perhaps I can find a way there.
I imagine myself there, at his service. I stand at the podium before eighty or so of our friends, to eulogize about a great friend. I look into the eyes of my friends and tears begin to flow. I begin.
Knowing Per, brings change to one's life. I first met Per online. First thing he says is can I bring someone I don't know to Lake Shasta. When I got to Shasta, it was comfortable to meet him. It was as though I had known him all my life. His greeting was filled with joy and kindness and laughter. I sensed instantly that I had found a kindred spirit. I remember I got thrown out of the hotel we were staying in.
He had some people with him. People warm and welcoming, the people in this room, people who would grow to be my friends. They were other people like Per, that liked Per too, and thought he had something interesting to say. Per was clearly a leader in his community. In this community, and in a bigger community. In places like Denmark and Shanghai, where Per was admired, respected and rewarded for a lifetime of work. Of good work. He studied with some great men. I think I remember him telling me that he studied with Minor White, met Ansel Adams. Per was an academic and a scholar, and a humble teacher, and a good mentor. In places like Zion Canyon and Joshua Tree, and his quiet kitchen in Pasadena. He taught us his tedious love of photography. We soaked it up. He gave his love for art and photography freely and with love. He was inspiring. I want to remember him standing up talking, sharing his love.
Per Volquartz taught us something much richer than his love for photography. Per loved life. There's a glimmer of love in my past that Per reminded me of so many times, a girl in a Springdale, Utah restaurant that I might have loved. "You should go and find her," he would say. In a quiet unassumimg way, Per repeatedly reinforced a much richer notion than photography, that we should be inspired to live well. Through his example, we saw an appreciation of life, of living. An example that we can long admire. He taught us to love, and to care for each other, and to care for what we do, the way that he so kindly cared for us, nurtured us.
And now, he is gone. He is teaching us to grieve. In the midst of that, he leaves me with all these friends, that I know will share the joy I can feel at having even a few brief moments to share with a great man. We are the lucky ones.
We need to drink some port and make some platinum prints, and celebrate a life well lived.