During the summer of 1998, as a new employee of the Assiniboia Gallery, I was thrilled to be invited to brunch with Robert Genn and his wife, Carol. Robert and Carol were staying briefly in Regina on their way to a wedding just outside of the city. The owners of the Assiniboia Gallery at the time—John and Monica Kurtz—were away, but John arranged for Jeremy and me to meet Robert and Carol at the Hotel Saskatchewan for brunch.
Jeremy was still a university student and I was just a couple of months into my first “real” job. Needless to say, I was excited and a bit nervous to be dining with one of Canada’s most prominent artists. Jeremy and I quickly relaxed and settled into a wonderful morning of great conversation.
Robert had a kindness and infectious personality that made him instantly likeable. He had so many interesting things to say. He really understood the business of art and the business of making art. Even though I was a “newbie” in every sense of the word, he treated me with respect and shared stories and advice I would have thought reserved for long-standing art dealers and close friends.
A few years later, my mom and I travelled to Vancouver for a long weekend. Sara Genn—Robert’s daughter and another Assiniboia Gallery artist—was home visiting her parents, so we arranged to meet Sara in Vancouver and drive out to the family home in Surrey. It was a memorable afternoon spent in Robert’s studio. The opportunity to see Robert’s studio and spend time with him in his home was a great experience. Working with artists is about building relationships, and being able to spend time with Robert and Sara on a personal level helped solidify our relationship with them. Robert also treated us to sushi at his favourite local restaurant, which was a first for both my mom and me.
Over the 15 years that Jeremy and I have owned the gallery, we’ve talked to many artists from all walks of like. My advice to them has always been, and will continue to be – follow Robert Genn. Read his books. Subscribe to ”The Painters Keys.”
Robert understood the life of an artist. He loved the artistic process. He also loved and respected his dealers and the business of art. We loved and respected him too. He will be missed, but the lessons he taught us and the art he created will live on forever.
Jeremy and I extend our deepest condolences to Robert’s wife of 49 years, Carol; his children, Dave (Tamara), James (Shawna) and Sara (Peter); and his three grandchildren, Beckett, Zoë and Poppy.
– Mary Weimer
image:Robert Genn painting with his granddaughter.
(image source: http://lindawilder.blogspot.ca/2011_05_01_archive.html)