- BUSH- Artist Jan Christopher 59, of Altadena, Calif., died at his home on April 11, 2011. Born Dec. 7, 1951 in Red Bank, NJ, he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Arizona in 1977. His lifelong passion for books, art, history, philosophy, surfing and travel took him in many directions in his personal and professional life. He traveled extensively throughout the world, Indonesia and Myramar (Burma) in particular. Jan's keen observation of the world and its beauty translated into his work as a professional artist. A woodworker, photogra- pher, and sculptor, he worked with partner Kari von Wening beginning in 2002 collaborating on unique metal assemblages through their business Metalworks. Their award-winning works are displayed in galleries on both coasts and Hawaii. Jan became a full-time artist after a successful corporate career with Pacific Bell/SBC in Los Angeles. His record-breaking sales as a Winback Sales Account Manager earned him the name "the Winback Messiah," surpassing his quota by 400%. He received the President's Circle Winner consecutively through 1994-97, the Pinnacle Award 1994, and the Sterling Club Winner 1998. A voracious reader, Jan consumed at least four books a week, mostly works on history, culture, art, and philosophy. He relished debate, and loved the process of getting at the truth of an issue. He had friends from all walks of life, and often played the role of contrarian to stir and advance intellectual discussions. He was an information gatherer in all things, often advising others: "Don't make a decision until you educate yourself." Jan read only non-fiction, but he appreciated the value of storytelling, even creating wry life stories from objects he sold on Ebay or humorous updates of his little town of Altadena on Facebook. Jan's approach to any endeavor was all or nothing. He would begin an assemblage and keep working on it non-stop until he was finished, or otherwise abandon it completely. When advised to get steel-toed boots for welding with metal, he would research 20 different pairs. As an old school longboard surfer, he found spiritual refuge in the waves. He has requested that his ashes be scattered into the Pacific. Jan is mourned by his mother, Nancy Wittke, his longtime companion and work partner, Kari von Wening, his beloved family, and dear friends. A memorial service in honor of Jan's life will be held Sunday, May 15th, at 2 p.m. at the War Memorial Building, 435 Fair Oaks Ave. South Pasadena, Calif. 91030.
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Published in San Gabriel Valley Tribune on May 8, 2011