For as far back as anyone around here can remember, Pat Denner has maintained a studio on Broadway, in a part of downtown that still features small shops and galleries instead of just big banks and office towers. But I regret to report there’s now a padlock on the door and the pictures have been taken down, including my poster of motorcycling legend Burt Munro, taped to the front window for lo, these past five years. Like Pat’s studio, the faded poster had become something of a historic landmark. If you look closely, you can find it in artist Paul Heath’s multimedia rendition of Broadway, currently on exhibit at the Patrick Moore gallery.
I was afraid something bad had happened to Mr. Denner, but am pleased to report he’s still alive and active in spite of advancing years and the aftereffects of multiple surgeries. He’s housebound, but continues to draw and paint every day—same as before. When I dropped in on him last week, he was painting a portrait of Bibi Aisha, the young Afghan woman whose nose had been cut off by the Taliban. Pat was working from a photo that had appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, taking care to reproduce his model’s features precisely, with one exception. When Denner’s painting is finished, Bibi will have her nose back.
He also has done a bit of unauthorized touch-up work on his driver’s license picture, in which he is no longer bald but has a luxuriant mane.
It’s just one of many ways Pat Denner always manages to come off as younger than his years. Age, illness and heartbreak haven’t dampened his boyish enthusiasm for art, nor his zest for life. Forget about his most recent hospitalization—isn’t it wonderful that the thirty-three Chilean miners all came out alive?
Indeed, it is. There is just so much bad news nowadays. What a treat to spend a happy hour with the unsinkable Pat Denner, creator of Vegas Vic and Wendover Will, restorer of thinning hair and Afghani noses.