When I first started writing Pigtown*Design, one of the first posts I wrote was about an old friend, John Gutierrez, and his metal-working shop, Gutierrez:Studios. As you drive around Baltimore, you see lots of his iron works gracing buildings, gardens, interiors and exteriors. Always perfection, always interesting works.Yesterday, John lost a very short battle against cancer, and I am heart-broken for a talent lost, for a friend who is no longer here, and for his family, especially his brother, Richard with whom I have been best friends since my first day at college, many years ago.
For the past 24 hours, memories of John have been swirling around my mind, first as my pal Richard’s brother, a young artist. Then at Richard’s wedding, presenting the new couple with a custom piece of furniture. On my return from Wales, attending a huge party at his studio where I re-connected with so many friends I hadn’t seen in ages. More recently, allowing my niece and me to come and visit his amazing studio one winter afternoon. Watching John cook his specialty, goulash, in a hand-crafted cauldron over a wood fire at a Halloween Party, where I’d gone as Kitchen Nightmares, and he was the cook. As I was driving home from work one afternoon, I saw John and his crew putting the final touches on the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden in Baltimore and drove around the block just so I could say hi to him. He was that kind of person. Many years ago, as a student at RIT, John first presented his work at the American Crafts Council show. Today, I attended the ACC show in Baltimore and saw the booth that John and Roya, his partner of 30+ years had put together, not knowing if he’d attend. It is a testament to his workers that they loved John enough to be at the show, greeting hundreds and hundreds of people, in their time of grief.Richard Gehrman, principal at Brown|Craig|Turner architects put it beautifully in an e-mail this morning:
Mies van der Rohe famously stated, ‘God is in the details.” John walked with God in creating the details that made our ideas look really good. Excellent craftwork is rare these days, and no one was more concerned with craft and design than John. Aside from being an outstanding individual and a personal friend, he mentored anyone with an interest and passion for design. His life was his work, and vice-versa. I can only hope to achieve a percentage of what John’s contributions to our built environment have made in his 45 years of full life.
John Kennedy Gutierrez was loved by many and will be missed by all.