May 23, 1931 - May 8, 2013|
Resident of Lafayette
A beautiful man… called by some a creative genius.
Stan Dann left this world as he lived, with a little paint on his shirt, his family and Sidney (his best dog ever) by his side. He hiked the hills surrounding his home and created art until almost the very end.
Born and raised in British Columbia, Canada, Stan always said he'd had a perfect childhood. The times he spent playing on the Fraser River provided him the start for a lifelong love affair with hiking and the outdoors.
Stan learned machine pattern making in the shop owned by his brother Art, where he picked up woodworking skills. At eighteen, he met the elegant Margaret Eaton and the two were married, each at age twenty-one.
It was a lasting and mutual attraction. The two soon moved to Los Angeles where Stan attended and then graduated with honors from Art Center School of Design. They moved north to the Bay Area and settled in Lafayette. In the early Sixties, Stan had a brief stint as an art director and illustrator with advertising firm McCann Erickson in San Francisco. He then co-founded the 222 Design Group with friends Ed Diffenderfer and John Lichtenwalner. Stan carved a sign for their new venture and soon architects were calling for Stan Dann's wood graphics services. Thus began his own career in woodworking and Stan soon became a recognized figure in the California Craft Movement of the 1960's and 70's. His commercial signage, graphics, murals and doors, created in carved redwood, were widely sought after by prominent architects and designers and were featured in national publications. His carved decorative art was exhibited in such iconic venues as the Nut Tree in Vacaville.
Ultimately, Stan Dann's creative energy led him into the world of fine art. As an artistic maverick, he began to use wood in a completely original manner in 1980. He sculpted and painted wood into bas-relief wall sculptures, transcending the medium. These were puzzle-like assemblages depicting both sophisticated and sometimes humorous renderings of street landscapes, household ephemera, machinery (machine-scapes), dimensional doodles and even the intimacy of worn shoes. Stan's favorite and ever- changing point of debate was how to apply the final finish to the sculpture. "I've finally got the finish figured out!" was his common refrain with those close to him. Among his triumphs were his solo exhibition at Allan Stone Gallery, New York; his inclusion in "Crafting Modernism: Mid-Century American Art and Design" at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; and "Stan Dann, a Ten Year Perspective" at Civic Arts, Walnut Creek. His artwork is in significant private and museum collections, including the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento; "Tools as Art: the Hechinger Collection", Washington, D.C.; and the collection of Forrest L. Merrill, Berkeley. Art patrons and former gallery owners Barclay and Sharon Simpson were essential to his continued success with their enthusiastic support of his work throughout his fine art career.
Work aside, Stan Dann was just about the most charming, hilarious and real person one could ever have the pleasure of knowing. He and his wife Margaret gave some wild parties over the years. Stan loved people, period. He simply was that kind of man.
Stan also had a deep love for his son Vincent, who predeceased him, and his daughter Lynda, who follows in his creative footsteps. He also adored his son-in-law Jorge Rojas. He is survived as well by Margaret, his wife of 60 years. In Canada, survivors include his brother Art Dann and wife Lorraine, sister-in-law Eleanor Miller and husband Don, sister-in-law Donna Fowler, and Stan's many nieces and nephews. Lifelong friend John Pratt, who moved to California and shared many of Stan's big adventures, also survives him. Those who knew Stan will forever miss his tall lanky form, warm blue eyes, and loving smile. They will miss seeing him hike daily on Briones Ridge in Lafayette, dog by his side. They will perhaps even miss those endless political discussions with Stan at dinner parties. They will surely miss the way he lit up every room with his humor and presence. His art, so reflective of his personality, lives on.
Services are pending. The family appreciates donations to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. (www.bbrfoundation.org)
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on May 19, 2013