June 23, 2013

Mourning the loss of a true champion of the arts

By DANIEL KANY

Philip Isaacson’s clear voice will forever be irreplaceable, but it will never be truly gone. A half-century of articles cannot be unprinted or unread. The countless doors he opened for innumerable readers onto myriad artists, works and ideas cannot be closed.

Isaacson, who died at age 89 Thursday, wrote about the arts for the Maine Sunday Telegram for almost 50 years. He encouraged and inspired me personally – as well as my community, friends and even my own family.

I remember the day when my son, 9 years old at the time, brought home from his school library a book by Phil about architecture. My son still reads about architecture, and I see Phil’s hand in that.

As an art critic, there was no end to Phil’s range: Photography, craft, painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking and so on. He had a rigorous eye, but he was ever-encouraging. He was a true champion of the arts in Maine. Phil generously shared great advice with me, and I will always treasure that.

Phil loved culture. But to him, culture was people and not just the fancy frosting on some uninteresting cake. He was a worldly man who never forgot where his home was.

It was a true honor to be a colleague of Phil Isaacson.

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