Artist and teacher John Bashor died peacefully in his room at Highgate Memory Cottage the afternoon of Dec. 21, 2013 with his wife, Rosemary, at his bedside.
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He is survived by his wife, Rosemary Bashor; his son, Matt Bashor and wife, Penny; his grandchildren, Jesse Bashor, Joshua Bashor, Jena Bashor, and Jory Bashor. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Patricia, and his son, Mitch Bashor.
John William Bashor was born in 1926 in Kansas the only child of William and Corinne Sweet Bashor. He grew up in Florence and Topeka, Kan. From an early age he made structures, gadgets, planes, and boats which led to a lifelong interest in making things and the tools used to make things. John's artistic potential was recognized in high school by Howard Church who arranged for John to take college level painting courses at Washburn University.
In 1944 at age 18 John joined the Navy and saw a tour of duty as an electrician's mate aboard the U.S.S. Frank Knox in both the Atlantic and Pacific. In 1946 John returned from the war and earned an A.B. degree in Art from Washburn University graduating in 1949. He earned a Masters of Fine Art from the University of Iowa in 1951. He married Patricia Hughes that summer. From 1951-1953 John worked as an art therapist and teacher at the Menninger Clinic.
In 1953 John moved to Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan. For the next 13 years he taught art and was Chairman of the Art Department. Two sons were born during this time, John Mitchell (Mitch) in 1954 and William Matthew (Matt) in 1957.
In 1966 John moved his family to Bozeman to become Director of the School of Art at Montana State University and taught as a full professor. Early in John's directorship of the MSU School of Art, Haynes Hall was built with art-specific classrooms, offices, studios and facilities for existing and additional faculty and students. Pat died in 1969 and several years later John married Rosemary Chappee Laughlin. Rosemary, also an artist, had taught at Bethany College. In 1973 John and Rosemary designed and built a home and a studio in Bridger Canyon. In 1977, Mitch Bashor died at age 22. John stepped down as Director to resume full-time teaching. He left teaching in 1986 to devote full time to painting, studio work, and art experiments in the Bridger Canyon Studio.
John continued painting while at the same time expanding the range of things he created with perfection and depth. For example, John built gun stocks for hunting rifles starting with a slab of walnut. The finished stocks would be polished, incised, and engraved. John built re-curve bows with graceful handles and arrows and quivers too. He tied flies and made a variety of lures for fresh and salt water.
John made knives for many years and each knife was different. With handles of exotic wood, polished minerals, bone, mammoth tusk, treated metals, etc. His shop was equipped with lathes, drills, milling machine, welders, and grinders which allowed him to make intricate parts. He built elegant furniture and designed a wood-burning stove shaped like a truncated pyramid for his living room. He built a solar collector to help heat the studio and had a variety of windmills. He had a darkroom, early video cameras, and was a serious photographer.
When John and Rosemary became "rock hounds," John's shop expanded to include polishers, rock saws, and faceting equipment. These specimens found their way into knife handles, belt buckles, and jewelry. John built model airplanes both intricate display models and flying models. The detail and craftsmanship of his models were superb.
John and Rosemary spent many years touring in the southwest and Mexico in a wide variety of trailers and motor homes. They eventually bought a house in Bouse, Ariz. and spent the winters there. The first improvement on the house was to convert the garage into a studio complete with shop tools for making knives and tools for Rosemary's jewelry making. Always making things!
As a senior in high school, John won a national award for a painting he submitted to the Scholastic Magazine competition which was at that time the most prestigious honor a high school student could hope for.
John was represented in a number and variety of shows, both one man and invitational, among them the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg, Kan., the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, the Hutchinson Kansas Art Center, Wichita State University, the Veerhoff Galleries in Washington, D.C., Montana State University, Bozeman and many more. His work also appears in the permanent collections of galleries such as the William Rockhill Nelson in Kansas City as well as numerous private collections.
There will be a memorial gathering Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 at 2 p.m. at Aspen Pointe at Hillcrest. Memorial donations may be sent to Emerson Cultural Center.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Dec. 28 to Dec. 29, 2013