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1176 Main Street
Fairfax, VT 05454
Phone: 802-849-6261
Fax: 802-849-6262
William Brauer

William Jeffrey Brauer

Thursday, June 16th, 1938 - Thursday, February 28th, 2019
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Obituary

William Jeffrey Brauer died at home in Warren with his wife, Wendy, and family by his side on February 28, 2019. He was 80.

Brauer, a world-renowned artist, drew his first self-portrait at the age of 9 and was lucky enough to get to live his passion for art. He was born to Herman and Tess (nee Horowitz) Brauer on June 16, 1938, and grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, NY.

From a very early age Billy had an interest in art. His mother took away his first oil paints given to him by an aunt because they were too messy, and he was unable to attend art school because his family wanted him to get a real job. He ended up at the University of Miami on a partial golf scholarship – as his father taught him to golf as a young boy – and he became an accomplished golfer.
After several years at college he returned to New York and, with no family encouragement, went to The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. He was a protege of surrealist Frederico Castellon, whose influence can be seen in Brauer’s early etchings. He subsequently worked in advertising in NYC as an illustrator.
In 1962, he married Penny Galowitz and their son, Lee, was born later that year.
Brauer moved to Vermont as part of the back-to-the- land movement in the early 1970s where he homesteaded and began what would be his life’s passion of painting in oil. Over the next two decades Brauer achieved significant success with his work.

Brauer’s first major exhibition, in 1974, was the Associated American Artists’ New Talent in Printmaking show. His work was selected for the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum and was featured in their 19th annual Print Exhibition. He won the Anonymous Prize in Printmaking from the National Academy of Design and was commissioned to do special editions for the Associated American Artist in 1974 and again in 1977. Brauer received an individual grant from the Vermont Arts Council in 1976. It was shortly thereafter that he switched his focus from printmaking to painting and he primarily worked with a brush after that.

With the change to oil painting, Brauer’s work became more sought after and appeared in galleries from Boston to Seattle and in private collections around the globe. Working from a turn-of-the-century barn that he rehabbed with his then wife, Warren artist Marilyn Ruseckas, his style went through many changes over the years but always focused on human forms and light, often with mythological and literary themes.

Brauer loved helping others become better artists and taught classes at the University of Vermont, Goddard College and Vermont College and has inspired many students in a private life drawing class that was ongoing for over 40 years.

Billy’s passion for art defined his life.
He is survived by his wife, Wendy; his son, Lee; his adored stepchildren, Lauren Appleby (Crawford) and Charlie Tompkin; two grandchildren, Jesse Brauer and William Appleby; beloved cousins; as well as a devoted cadre of friends and students.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice (www.cvhhh.org) and Valley Arts (www.valleyartsvt.com). A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. The family invites you to share your memories and condolences by visiting www.awrfh.com.
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Private Condolence
JH

Jon Hall

Posted at 02:08pm
JON HALL My family (Jan, Marty, Alex & Suzanne) were living in Warren when Billy moved up there to the house on the East Warren road to lead the life of a struggling artist. It was evident to everyone who saw his work (painting, print making, sculpture) that here was a very talented guy. Also a great & supportive friend. Examples: shearing my sheep one day and showing me how to do it; together we purchased a sheet metal bender so that we could make roofing for our homes, etc. I was an architect, but at the time also wanted to learn to paint, so I encouraged Billy to start teaching painting. I'm sure others urged him too. Anyway he did start offering classes in Waitsfield. After a year or so he says something like "hey Jon you were asking me to do this so how come you didn't join in?" So I did and it was one of the smartest & best things I ever did do. He was a great teacher! and I stayed with him for the rest of my time in VT. Since then I've studied at the Art Students League in NYC and other schools here in Seattle, where I live. Now I paint a lot and have a couple of shows every year out of our garage by the sidewalk. What a life!
AH

Alex Hall

Posted at 11:06am
Dear Friends, I have the fondest memories of Billy who was a close friend of my father Jon Hall as well as our family who lived just a few miles south of the Brauer 'homestead'. Billy opened his barn up to me and my teenage friends to shoot pool whenever we wanted. We had a lot of fun in this cool old barn (1970s!). I became friends with Lee but have not seen him for 40 years. Hi Lee!! I hope that you and your family are well. I was good friends with Wendy's sister and brother Karen and Eric and have great memories of Eric's laugh and smile. We were very young. I hope that Wendy and her family are doing well despite the loss of our beloved Billy. Keep up the great living everyone! Let's live by the lessons of those who have passed before us: share love and support for others. Peace, Alex Hall in Winthrop Washington
LS

Laura Schlivek

Posted at 09:20am
Billy was a wonderfully kind and welcoming teacher. He took everyone seriously no matter their skill level and taught them how to really see what they were looking at. "Make a mess!" he'd say. "Look at the light and dark shapes." The first time I attended his figure drawing class I had my 11-year-old daughter in tow. Art was everything to her and her middle school had just recently made deep cuts to the art program. At the end of the class when people put their drawings up for critique he gave her drawing a serious and respectful critique along with everyone else's. And he pulled me aside before we left and said he could tell I was here for her. I said yes I was, but I'd like to learn too. We attended that class several times a month until she finished high school and went off to art school with a terrific portfolio largely produced right there in Billy's class. And I did learn too and enjoyed every minute of it. Billy was a treasure and will be sorely missed.
KP

Kurt A Polhemus

Posted at 11:16am
Wendy, I am so very sorry for your loss. Although I never actually met Billy, I was familiar with and admired his paintings years before I learned that the two of you were married. He was a gifted artist and teacher and left behind a body of work that people will continue to appreciate. Again, my deepest sympathies to you and your family. Kurt A Polhemus
GL

Gina Logan

Posted at 07:28pm
I had the enormous privilege of participating in a tempera-painting class that Bill taught at CCV Montpelier in 1975, and in the following year I modeled regularly for his life drawing class, also at CCV. He was passsionate about teaching his students to see, incredibly supportive and helpful with us all, and a joy to model for--courteous and professional to the highest degree. I learned so much from him, and forty-four years have not dimmed the memories. We are all blessed in his life and art, and you, his family and friends, are doubly blessed in his love.
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