In Memoriam: Barbara Irwin

RECEIVED Sat., June 20, 2020

Dear Editor,
    2020 wrenched another jewel from Austin’s violet crown when Barbara Irwin died at 78 on May 12. If she were here, she would have caught that gem as it was pried off and built a nest for it out of spun rusty metal and Victorian hearts. Barbara’s art treasures taught us the rich magic in everything, from Technicolor dream-quilts and catnip mice fashioned from remnants to protected worlds inside discarded birdcages to her magnificent welded flowers growing out of gravel in her living room. Barbara felt she was blessed with an indestructible sense of wonder. Only she would find the litter around bus stops to be a candy store of beauty there for the picking.
    Shermakaye Bass described how the “wow” of Barbara’s multitude of talents coalesced into an astonishingly beautiful gallery. Thomas Blom explained how Barbara’s art felt sacred yet familiar – immediately accessible yet refined. Perhaps you experienced the sumptuous celebration of her home during the Weird Homes or East Austin Studio Tour or in a visit complete with foot bath. If not, treat your world-weary mind to
    Barbara breathed as an artist in all she did, be it as an interior designer, Montessori teacher, store buyer, herbalist, seamstress, housecleaner or gardener. She and her ex-husband built a boat and sailed it to Hawaii, where she spent 20 years before returning to Texas. At 65 when many people slow down, she marked becoming a welder off her to-do list. Barbara was tenacious about sharing her work, scoring shows at the Wildflower Center, Seton Cove, City Hall, Georgetown Arts Center, and Davis Gallery.
    Barbara always called on your birthday to sing “I Just Called to Say I Love You” perfectly off-key. She believed and lived love was the answer. Sweet friend, I just wrote to say I love you.
Joni Sager
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