One of life’s great mysteries is innate ability. Graphic artist Tom Bowman waxed about that mysterious subject at the end of his biography on his website.
“Art, to me, is a God-given gift,” Bowman wrote. “I believe everyone has a gift and for me, drawing just happens to be mine. It takes time to polish that talent, but, I believe initially talent is a gift on loan.”
Bowman, 70, who died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack while on a long-awaited hike at Colchuck Lake, made the most of his artistic advance.
Bob Hammett, who was a close friend and hiking buddy of Bowman’s, was on the fateful hike.
“Tom was about a quarter-mile short of camp,” Hammett said. “We think he probably passed on before he hit the ground. … Tom’s work is amazing. He would take pictures on our backpacking trips and then (paint) an original and then do prints and give them out. On our last hike on Goat Rocks, we climbed up to Old Snowy with a view of Mount Adams that was amazing.”
A decade ago Bowman painted the landscape of Colchuck Lake and was hoping to do the same on the trip last week. Bowman, Hammett and their crew of 10 waited four years for a permit to camp in the Enchantment area of the wilderness.
The group spent the night where Bowman was prone for a vigil that lasted into the wee hours.
“We held a candle over his head and played Christian music,” Bowman said. “It was beautiful. It wasn’t surprising that Tom died with his boots on. It’s incredibly sad that he’s no longer with us. Tom believed in Big Foot, and we enjoyed listening to his tales. But he’s in heaven now.”
Much of Bowman’s art conveyed that there is heaven on earth. The Illinois native who moved to Spokane in 1984 was an award-winning artist who left behind a number of stunning works.
Bowman was justifiably proud of his Spokane series, which is well worth a look. The detail Bowman provides with “The Monroe Street Bridge” makes the work come alive.
“The bridge was once the longest concrete span in the nation and continues its role as a main North/South city arterial,” Bowman wrote. “The roaring cataracts of the Spokane river plunge below the arches, a scene that once graced the cover of Life magazine.”
“Mt. Spokane” is a majestic work created by the Golden Medallion award winner and Emmy nominee.
“The gentle peak is a popular skiing and hiking destination just minutes from downtown,” Bowman wrote. “It’s wildlife boasts deer, elk, moose and mountain lion. One feature of this landmark is to act as a quick weather forecaster and the first dusting of snow means winter is not far off.”
“Where Treetops Glisten” is one of the eloquent artist’s finest paintings.
“When Bing Crosby crooned those immortal lyrics in ‘White Christmas,’ he may have been reminiscing about Cannon Hill Park,” Bowman noted.
Obviously Spokane meant a great deal to Bowman, who is survived by his wife, Robin Einerson, 69, as an artist and a person.
“Spokane had a huge impact on Tom and I,” Einerson said. “When we moved here we thought we would just be here for two years since we were away from family, but we ended up loving it here. People are just so friendly in Spokane. We’ve stayed here at our house on Post off of Cannon Hill Park for 36 years.”
The Lacey native was a painter but supported his family primarily through graphic design work.
Bowman, who rendered art for The Spokesman-Review, The Inlander, Bloomsday and Pig Out in the Park, obviously had a soft spot for Spokane and the Pacific Northwest, which inspired a healthy portion of his art.
“I love this place,” Bowman wrote. “It has the perfect balance of city and country. You round the bend and there’s another spectacular landscape, the Palouse, the Columbia Gorge, the stratovolcanoes. Turn off a dusty road in the middle of nowhere and discover a forest of Russian Yew trees filled with bluebirds, amazing!”
“Tom couldn’t say no to jobs or to people in Spokane,” Einerson said. “Spokane was home to him.”
Bowman will be cremated and buried along with his daughters, Brita, 10, who died in 1998 due to leukemia, and Klara, who committed suicide in 2016, at Greenwood Memorial Terrace cemetery. A service for Bowman, who worshiped at Christ the Redeemer, has yet to be scheduled.