In Memoriam: Adrienne Harber

Adrienne and I were close friends for nearly 27 years. We were both artists. Whether playing the piano in that lilting style she had with Chopin, making nature photographs, cutting paper into loosely sculptural shapes, creating native plant beds in her garden, or visiting the Denver Art Museum, Adrienne derived hours of pleasure from Art.

She was first of all a lover of life and never tired of enjoying life in her adopted state of Colorado. She loved the simple pleasures of a hike in the foothills, watching a bird bathe in the clay saucer on her porch, or having a bite to eat in a local restaurant. In Boulder, she lavished her love of architecture on the NCAR building. A trip to NCAR combined several of Adrienne's favorite things. We would drive to the parking lot, take a hike in the foothills around the building, admiring its exterior as well as the great views, then go inside to appreciate the building's interior spaces, ending up in Adrienne's favorite room at the facility: the dining room, where we would have breakfast.

If we didn't feel like climbing the hill, there was a walk to Baseline for a cup of coffee and bread at the French cafe that used to be there. France and all things French were some of Adrienne's favorite things.

A visit to a restaurant was always a social event for Adrienne, who enjoyed flashing that winning smile of hers and making friends of everybody who came our way. In all the places she frequented for meals she was on personal terms with most of the help as well as the owners.

Adrienne was a connoisseur of local restaurant coffee. Her home brew was notoriously flavorful but she preferred to be served in a coffee shop or restaurant, where she would sip once and sip again and then pronounce: "The coffee here is always fresh and hot."

Estes Park was one of her favorite destinations and a trip there included all the trimmings: the beautiful views from the car window, the little restaurant stop for lunch, and then the park itself. We'd take a hike into the high country and then perhaps have a bite to eat at the lodge before we made the trip back to Boulder. Food, art and architecture, music, nature, France: these were a few of Adrienne's favorite things. There were many teaching moments in my life with Adrienne.

She taught me how to cook for myself without taking a lot of trouble. Her approach was to put some fresh water in a pan to boil, drop some whole wheat noodles into it together with a few vegetables sliced thin. Once the noodles were done, she'd stir in some miso paste and serve a steaming hand made ceramic bowlful to whoever happened to have lucked into sitting at her table. The real key, however, was in her refrigerator: walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, almonds, olives, lemon, feta, swiss and goat cheeses, perhaps a bit of King Sooper's roasted chicken or her own orange-roasted chicken, yogurt, humus spread or roasted garlic, and BREAD: always several tasty breads. She would lay out an assortment so that a guest or a friend could create for themselves a personally designed feast to their exact taste with no great effort on Adrienne's part. She won my heart at her table, effortlessly. I won hers with my carob brownies, which took more fuss than she was willing to make in the kitchen. She found them delectable!

She favored artists and did not shrink from eccentricity, which is important because most artists are eccentric and many people are uncomfortable with them for that reason. She taught me volumes about how to survive as an artist in the face of life's vicissitudes. Without ever coddling me, she could bring me back to my own center whenever I drifted into self-pity because of the misfortunes that dog an artist. "You are not the Target," she would intone to me. "Remember that. Remember this, too", she said: "the most important thing in life is a sense of humor and a sense of humor is first of all the ability to laugh at oneself."

Her own flashes of humor were punctuated by that smile of hers, which seemed to beam from her face and eyes with an electric energy. My memories of Adrienne will always be with me as a source of comfort and wisdom. Our friendship expresses itself each day in the joy of watching a bird's antics on the porch, in short, in the simple pleasures of life. Her great love of art and artists provides me with a lifetime of encouragement. At the same time, I will miss her terribly because of all the wonderful times we won't get to be together. I guess there are never enough years in anyone's life when it comes to enjoying the company of a close friend.

With condolences to all her friends and family, in loving memory of Adrienne, Mabrie.

Mabrie Ormes: Adrienne’s Life