...occasionally upside down and topsy turvy world of ours, I notice that the people who endure the most hardship and challenge in their lives are the same people that share and give freely of their spirit and heart. Jim Gahagan is and always will be a great man. I feel that Jim believed in quality of life and that he lived his life to its fullest while passing on so many gifts, notably his heart, spirit and soul, to the people close to him. I, Paul Gahagan, and many others are so thankful for those everlasting joyous qualities that Jim shared with us in his paintings.
Instead of being down in the mouth about my dad's passing on, I feel that I must celebrate the life and times of this amazing and wise man.
In 1988 my father quoted the French poet Baudelaire in an essay entitled "On Criticism": "The best critique of a work of art would be the creation of another work of art." Jim said later that the special and most useful function of art is that it speaks to and of the human spirit. I feel that Jim painted as a criticism of, or dialogue describing life and the universe itself, and no mere words can convey the feelings, emotions and lightness of self that his artwork does. Anyone who had contact with Jim, for any length of time, knows and feels sorrow at his passing but can't help but remember the wonderful human spirit that still is James E. Gahagan. Jim's heart also lives on in many ways because he touched all of us with his smooth candor, his adroit sense of humor, and his ability to engage with others with an unbiased perspective, while still being very convincing.
As an adolescent, I was timid about engaging intellectually with my father, but I took it upon myself to confront my anxieties by interviewing him about serving in the Navy during WWII for a high school assignment. This was a great opportunity for me to experience his adventures vicariously and to comprehend what it is to share feelings, emotions and lightness of self. And from this interview I learned that what Jim stood for was understanding and freedom of expression, regardless of age, gender, or political slant.
I never recall seeing my father depressed. He always had a bright, objective demeanor and could keep the shiny side of any coin showing. He rode a wicked trials bike and rode a mean rider mower through the abstractly spiraling landscape that is his world, Crazy Acres and Lake Tyrone
The idea of a Vermont Studio School Scholarship Fund in Jim's name is wonderful. Thank you also to David for Jim's website
My father spoke a special language when teaching, but wasn't afraid to sketch over a student's rendition of a posing model. I was able to learn in an amazingly fertile environment where my own abilities for self expression developed.
I thank my dad for all that he gave me and I intend to use his gifts, kindness, and understanding in my own life and to share these gifts with the world as he did. In this time approaching the millennium many people could benefit from the love Jim gave us.
Pavi Gahagan 7/10/99