The last 6 months has really been extremely sad in some ways and extremely thought provoking in others.
People I have known some I deeply respected-James Koehler, and some I have loved deeply-Marge Cruger have died and some I had just met Sonja Wendt, but knew of.
A week ago was the 25th anniversary of the suicide of a women- Karen Zimmerman- who was my best friend and the Gramma, Aunt of my family. She never understood the hole in our life’s that she would leave when she died. She didn’t hear us when we tried to tell her how important she was to us. Marge who died in August understood what her death would mean, because we had the chance to tell her how much she meant to us and for her to tell us how much we meant to her. I wonder if and what James knew about how we all felt about him and his life's work. Sonia was at the end of her life when I met her, but I enjoyed having her in my class even as I realized it would probably be the last class and the last tapestry she would weave.
I had only a very brief passing relationship with James.
James Koehler was a man I deeply respected and often enjoyed when I would serendipitously run into at him at conferences and talked to him at conferences died. I didn't know him well-barely at all. I wish I had known him better.
James was 58 years old when he died.
When we discussed the book that I want to write/finish called Colour Movement in Tapestry a year or so ago, he generously offered me the use of photos of his work. He encouraged me by saying that someone needed to write a technical book of techniques relating to colour usage in tapestry. He encouraged me by telling me it should be me and to stop worrying about whether...well, so many things and just do it. I didn't really know James, but I valued his opinion, kindness, his words, thought of him as an extremely capable teacher and his work.I never took a class from JAmes, but I have taught people who have studied with him and been amazed by the knowledge he had imparted to his students.
James was a master technician in using hachures and hatches and combing them with chene’s and mélanges to produce unique optical blends of colour. He was a great teacher because he seems to have always made his students feel they had a voice and could use it in tapestry.
I have been reading what seems like dozens of memorials and anecdote's about the life he lived. He was well loved, liked, extremely intellectual, a sharer and a giver of knowledge. He’s a great loss to the tapestry world and the world in general.
There is a certain rituals that happens when people die we all participate in these rituals. We create remembrances and memorials and try to remember all of the great things the person did for us in his life. Great and important rituals for the living left behind, But, I always wonder if we remembered to tell him/them how special he/they were to us while he was alive and if he believed it. So in honouring James go out and tell some weaver or weaving instructor how they have influenced you and perhaps helped you. Don’t wait for them to die. Celebrate life, because I am sure James did from the little bit that I knew of him!