September 6, 2013

Feature obituary: Robert Dyer, 57, accomplished Portland artist

By Melanie Creamer
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Robert "Bob" Dyer, an accomplished artist known for his plein air landscapes who showed his work in numerous galleries in the Portland area, died Tuesday after a courageous fight with cancer. He was 57.

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Robert Dyer


Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.

Mr. Dyer was represented by Frost Gully Galleries in Freeport for the past 15 years. Gallery owner Tom Crotty touched on Mr. Dyer's years living in Vinalhaven and his gravitation to granite and pure landscapes. Mr. Dyer's passion for Maine was evident in the emotional intensity of his brush marks. Up close, a viewer of his work would likely see dirt, straw or other debris in the paint.

"Very few people are able to appreciate how sophisticated Bob was with regard to his ability to paint in such a fresh and direct manner," Crotty said. "He was a very good painter. There was something unique and special about his work that would cause you to remember it and want to see it again."

Crotty noted Mr. Dyer's painting of the construction of the new Veteran's Memorial Bridge

"It's a great painting," he said. "One of the primary characteristics is its freshness. It's bold and direct. It's very strong."

Mr. Dyer showed his paintings in galleries across the Portland area and beyond. In May, his work was included in a series of mini exhibitions, "Double Dozen," at Aucocisco Galleries in Portland. For that series, he was paired with artist Kathi Smith. Each artist showed 12 pieces of artwork. Gallery owner Andres Verosa noted Mr. Dyer 's sense of color and energy around his mark making.

"Bob had his own color sensibility," Verosa said. "He knew how to handle a brush. It was very succinct and energetic. He was a really good painter. He really liked this gallery and was pleased to be able to show here. I was pleased to show him."

Mr. Dyer served four years in the Coast Guard in the mid-1970s. Then, he attended the Portland School of Art and the University of Southern Maine. In the early to mid-1980s, he moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., where he worked in construction and honed his skills as a painter. He returned to Portland in the 1990s and continued painting. He was also an independent stone mason and did jobs throughout the Portland area.

Zoo Cain, a local artist and longtime friend, was stunned to learn of Mr. Dyer's passing. He described Mr. Dyer on Wednesday as a unique character, who had strong opinions and a great sense of humor. He said Mr. Dyer was a true artist who was dedicated to his craft.

"He was true to his calling when it came to art or anything," Cain said. "He didn't squander his life. He was a good friend. He was someone you would want to know. He had a marvelous sense of humor and was quick to laugh and make a joke, and he could be the joke. He wasn't full of himself. We're talking about a pretty unique guy."

Mr. Dyer was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2006. Throughout his illness, he continued to make art.

Mr. Dyer lived in Portland with his longtime partner, Bonnie Threlkeld, and their dogs, Ratso and Stanly. He is also survived by two children, Laura Newman and her son, Logan Dyer; and a son, Merak Dyer, all of Conway, Ark.

A military service is being planned at Togus National Cemetery later this month.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: 

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