In memory of my artist friend Dan Sekellick

Dan Sekellick - Oceanic at Sunset (Star Island)

Today I’m mourning the death of my friend and fellow artist Dan Sekellick. In recent months, our Unitarian Universalist congregation has lost seven older long-term members in close succession, but Dan’s death hits closest to home.

A retired architect, Dan was dodgy about his age, but he was on the far side of seventy – I know because several years ago he told me he was eligible to ski free at Gore Mountain. Skiing was one of his many passions. He loved gardening, and normally during this dreary run of rainy March days his studio would already have been full of seed flats for his summer vegetable garden. In recent years he began writing poetry to accompany his paintings. He was a volunteer extraordinaire, helping to stock streams with fish each spring and to renovate and launch the Sand Lake Arts Center. 

Even as his health was failing in recent years, Dan had an extraordinary joie de vivre. I’ll always remember the enthusiasm with which he described the latest developments in his garden in spring, the skiing pointers he gave me at Jiminy Peak, and especially the ride he gave me back from Jiminy one early spring day in his vintage Chrysler convertible – with the top down, despite my initial protests. He was right – the windshield gave plenty of protection, and the ride through the Berkshire foothills was beautiful though breezy.

Dan Sekellick - Jazz Band

Most of all, Dan loved painting. On the website Art-N-Soul, Inc., where a few of his many paintings are displayed, he had this to say about his art:

My working method is an extension of my architectural design training. It often begins with some vague ideas of what I want to happen and it’s mixed with the influences of the works of other artists that I admire, along with my own personality and life experiences. I believe that artists are essentially self-replicating creatures, whatever their art form, and I don’t believe that I’m any exception. I refine my ideas, sometimes making fresh starts in new directions or just plugging along until I get it “right”, even if it takes years, as it sometimes does . . .

Thank you for viewing my work. I think that it helps to bring closure to a process that begins as vague idea or an inspiration or some other mysterious genesis, moves along with a lot of hard work and sometimes disappointment and then, hopefully makes a meaningful connection with another person. Now that’s the real reward in all of this.

What a wonderful description of the creative process, as true for writing as it is for painting. Dan, you’ll be missed by many, but your memory and your paintings live on. Yesterday, leaving the Sunday service at which our minister announced your death, I noticed how beautiful your abstract seascape looked hanging on the wall of our sanctuary, complete with the little seagull sculpture you’d perched whimsically on top.

7 thoughts on “In memory of my artist friend Dan Sekellick

  1. Thanks for writing about Dan, Julie–I wouldn’t have known he’s gone until the next Star Island newspaper came out. He was a lovely man and a lovely artist, and I enjoyed knowing him for many years at Star Island Arts Conference, then appreciated his design brilliance in the remodeling of our own UU Congregation of the Catskills.

  2. Thank you, Julie, for your beautiful thoughts. Those of us who are family members will be forever grateful that Dan had you for a friend to help us keep his memory alive.

  3. Thank you, Julie, for sharing this with your readers. You have told me things about my father that I never knew. I was lying in bed a few minutes ago, not able to sleep and started thinking about my dad’s memorial service and what I want to say. I was feeling really sad, missing him so much. I sat down at the computer and opened an e-mail sent from my mother-in-law, who knows Phil from the Unitarian Church. The e-mail was your blog. You’ve said so much about him and his perspective on art that is so helpful to me. My dad was such an original – that’s how I can sum up his life. I’d like to print your page about him to share with my mother and sister.
    Thank you.

    • Thanks Judy and Bill. I’m glad the blog was meaningful to you, and of course you’re welcome to print it. I’m planning to send a copy of the text to your mother as well.

      Dan touched many people in many ways. Folks from the UU Congregation of the Catskills would like to know the details of the memorial service when you have them.

      The one thing I’m not sure about in my post was the make of Dan’s convertible. I called it a Lincoln but I have a feeling it was a Chrysler. Cars aren’t my thing, so I’d be grateful if a family member could enlighten me. Thanks!

  4. Yes, it was a Chrysler. Lincolns and Chryslers are both American-made so you were close enough.
    My father’s service will be on Sunday, April 25 at 5:00 pm. The website for the UU Society of Albany has an excellent website with directions and parking information. Do you want me to forward information to any one?
    For any one who wants info the website is below:

    • Thanks for the information, Judy. I made the correction from Lincoln to Chrysler in the post – as a longtime editor, I’m compulsive about being as accurate as possible.

      If you haven’t already, please notify people from the UU Congregation of the Catskills. Lyn Burnstine and Betsy Tuel in particular have asked about the service, and I know there are others who would be interested, since Dan designed their renovated sanctuary.

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