Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ode to a Friend's Passing

On March 8, 2013 my good friend of 23 year, Dennis Kauth, passed away. Aside from being a friend, father, husband, brother and son, he was an artist (though he did not look the part), an inventor, a former engineer, miniature model builder, avid outdoorsman, years ago rode with a motorcycle club, "blew things up" in the Navy... He lived a lot of lives. Back when I worked with him at TSR Inc. In Wisconsin, Dennis lived in a gray farmhouse. It was a cool place to hang out where everybody was welcome. Outside were horse shoe pits, axe throwing, potato cannons and a bone pit (I won't even go into that). In the basement was a homemade bar with a 75 gallon fish tank filled with Perch and Crappie. Every good bar needs a TV up in the corner of the room and a good sound system. There was all sorts of fishing gear and every power tool you could imagine. It was where he built things. Anything. We referred to his place as Dennisland. I always thought he should have had a big cartoon deer waving a welcome at the end of the driveway. It was also a place where you could be collaboratively creative.
Bottom row L to R: Dennis' wife Dorothy, me and D, and my wife Sandy.
Over the years I painted Dennis into a number of paintings (he was a really good character actor). He also built props for me to use in my reference photo shoots. On a couple of occasions I helped him out with a couple of his 3D projects (only in an assistant capacity). I've tried to gather up as many of those paintings here as well as a few candid pics. Some of these have stories. Some do not.
He was a demon face in a sandstorm. Years after the game module was published I noticed that it looked like he was about to bite that camel's ass. It makes me laugh even today.
A worn out old cowboy.
An unfortunate passerby who's about to get meat hooked.
A wizard. The funny part was that just prior to me taking photos he went out on the balcony of my apartment, in costume, and yelled to the kids on the playground below "Where are my people? What have you done with my people?"Sandy looked at me laughing and said, WTF is he doing?"
We built a small maquet of this dam, the scattered bricks and shoreline.

Then set the whole thing down on a mirror and shot photos of it with an extreme wide angle lense.

Dennis used to think he could make any story weirder if he could just add a ring Bologna, a monkey or a turkey baster. A few years ago I worked as a concept artist on a video game and threw a couple of ring bolognas in just for fun.
A creepy kidnapper.
Another wizard.
I must admit, I don't remember what this was done for.
At the bar in Dennis' basement we wrapped up my ex-wife up in 2 inch wide strips of cotton muslin and glopped on a bunch of clay slip.
Ahh the potato cannon. But it wasn't good enough when it was just white PVC pipe. It had to look like some sort of military weapon. It had a functional offset site. We talked about building a smaller one to mount onto my fishing canoe. I thought better of that idea.

I no longer have the photos of this head blaster. It was made out of PVC pipe and painted battleship gray because "it's a good sturdy color".
This one I managed to round up a photo of. Made from a 5 gallon bucket. The ram was sculpted out of 2 part green epoxy.
This book cover was originally on my schedule to paint. We started building the ship as a prop (I thought it was going to be a lot smaller than it was).  I spoke to the art director and suggested that we have the ship photographed and set against a star field. I think a real star field would have been better.
Below is a 54 second clip from a 1997 SciFi channel documentary about TSR Inc. I hope that the folks at the SciFi channel don't mind me sharing this short interview.
Somewhere Dennis is drinking mead and harassing the Valkyries in Valhalla.

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