Friday, April 11, 2014

Sad News: Barry Kimm

Sick. Sick with the awful truth I don't want to accept: Two friends died this week. Good men. Artists. Suicides.

The first news came on Wednesday and then another blow came the very next day. I can't stay standing next to Randy when he is telling me about Jerry Smith. I run out of the room, sit down, rub my forehead over and over.

I walk to the lake but I keep forgetting how to breathe. The air gets caught in my tight chest.

I go to my advisors, John Keats and Peter Mattheissen, for words to help me with mortality, to help me express what I can't comprehend. "My heart aches," writes the boy who died at 26. "Broken-brained and wholly broken-hearted" says the man who died, also this week, at 86.

Jerry. Uh, I can't write about Jerry right now.

I need to tell you about Barry Kimm. What a sweetheart. What a talent. Barry and I were at film school together in Iowa City in the 80's, then we reconnected at a reunion there in 2008. As our group walked the shady streets, looking for and telling stories about our old shabby apartment buildings, Barry told me in his serene way about the films he had made since Iowa, the 3-D IMAX movie about the sun that seemed too astounding a project to be real, but sure enough. I told Barry that Randy's company had just opened up a production department and he should give him a call. Barry did. And he got hired and directed several shoots for Optimus, for which I was inordinately proud to play that tiny part.

The last time I saw him was at Optimus's block party two summers ago. We talked in the cyc set on the fourth floor and once again, I was struck by his warmth, sweetness and calm in a room full of drinking ad people. And that was the last I heard until this week. The rest I have learned from mutual friends: when Barry's wife Susan was diagnosed with cancer, the two took a road trip around the country, taking photographs, their shared talent and love. Susan passed away the first week of April and Barry was not able to live without her.

I cannot judge Barry's choice. It brings so much pain to so many people, but his was worse. 

The memorial service that was planned for Susan will now be for them both, in Minneapolis, where they lived and loved each other.

Here is one of Barry's last projects. You can see see his goodness and wisdom in every frame.

Tattoo Underground from Barry Kimm on Vimeo.


Susan Bearman said...

You have the most beautiful words, and I only have that I am sorry for your losses.

Jeanne Ambrose said...

Wow!! That was awesome! I cried because it brought back alot of memories..especially the Teddy Bear cuz I still have my best friend too...That was done beautifully and I am touched...I am so sorry for your loss of both friends...You are strong and you will get through this..It may not be easy and it may take time but consider yourself blessed to have known them...I will pray for them and for you my sweet, loving, caring and emotional (like me) sister!! I love you and I am always here to listen if you need to talk...

feistyone said...

thank you cindy. once again your words are perfect and beautiful.

i didn't know you were the link to barry and one and that you went to school with him!

he was such a wonderful soul and i loved working with him.

i am so sad i can hardly think about it, it makes my stomach hurt.

i'm sorry to hear about your other friend. that's just too much.

sending you love and strength sister.

Anonymous said...

That was nice Jeanne. I like how you & Cindy write. Deepest condolences. Ronald

Anonymous said...

Cindy, thank you for sharing. I had no idea Barry had passed away. We reconnected years ago via the web but I hadn't seen him since 1989. I knew you all at Iowa but later worked at the Ann Arbor Film Festival where we screened his wonderful film, The Measurements of Oxford. Kind, gentle, poetic, a lightness within. Sad to know he's no longer here.

Kit in DC said...

This is extremely belated. I knew Barry many years ago when I lived in Mpls. Thought of him tonight and Googled his name. This is heartbreaking. He was an enormous talent with great depths of compassion. My heart goes out to everyone who knew him, especially his family.
Kitty Eisele, Washington, DC.