Approximately 7 months ago, one of my former studio mates in grad school at East Carolina University died suddenly from a ruptured brain aneurysm. He was 36. For weeks I was in absolute shock. I think of him often when I'm in the studio these days. He was a talented, prolific metalsmith. He loved to 'talk shop' about tools and techniques in the studio, different ways of doing things, and design. He loved dogs, surfing, good coffee, and playing the mandolin. He liked a good laugh, good beer, a good time. He was the quintessential "friendliest guy" you'd ever hope to meet.
Nick was an all-around great guy from NJ, and since I'm from there too I recall it being the basis of our first conversation during night studio hours back in 2001. I got to know him much better after school was over and we had both moved to Wilmington, NC. In 2007 I was going through a stressful divorce and my dear bullmastiff, Sassy, was dying of lymphoma-- life seemed pretty bleak. Nick was there with a listening ear and these great CD mixes of music--I probably have over 15 of them, with everything from Fleet Foxes to Johnny Cash to MGMT. He helped me move my heavy studio things from the house to a new studio downtown that I was sharing with another friend. I recall fun times at his house drinking, smoking cigarettes (then, no longer), and taking turns playing DJ, courtesy of his kickass Bose speaker system and limitless iTunes music library. One night he made this awesome pesto from scratch with basil from his deck planters. I remember seeing bands, shooting lots of pool, (or 'stick' as he called it) and a few quasi-tipsy 2 am summer bikerides around Sunset Park, feeling the finally-cooler, less-humid air as we sailed through the sleeping streets. We had such fun!
He encouraged me to do my first art fair, Orange Street, helping me set up a borrowed popup tent. He had a cooler of beer with him, and I remember getting sunburned through the tent on that hot southern May day while making my first public jewelry sales. Afterwards, we went to dinner and for drinks with some other artists from the fair. I also remember that typically before a show, he would be up late applying patina to certain pieces at the last minute, but the work was always exquisite. I am happy that I have at least one piece, a necklace, of his. Whenever I wear it, I think of him and wish that he was still here. He had a heart of gold, no pun intended. I will never forget him.