Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bob Camblin

The Professor's friend Bob Camblin died Sunday morning December 3rd. He came to Houston to teach at Rice the year after ther Professor was hired. They became fast friends and shared studios for many years . The Professor learned how  to draw and paint  from Bob.
 Bob was a gregarious story teller.He could entertain for hours as can be seen in the above picture . Bob showed his paintings and drawings at the David Gallery and the Moody Gallery. Then he dropprd out. In the 80s he and his wife Nancy and moved to the Oregon coast and then to the New Orleans suburb of La Place. His friends in Houston never heard from him again
In the 60's and 70's Bob and The Professor shared a studio off Montrose which they called B and E Productions and organized shows such as the Tatoo Show at David gallery (before Tatoos were a fashion statement). The Professor was let go from Rice. The Menils moved to Rice,The Professor moved to St. Thomas to begin the studio Art Department with Jack Boynton and Pat Colville . Joe Tate was hired to replace The Professor. The chair at Rice John O'Neil had a wonderful capacity for hiring teachers with whom he could not get along. John was a disiplined painter and teacher and he hired The Professor and Bob and Joe who were the exact opposite. The Professor and Bob and Joe teamed up as the Holding Firm and rented a house a block south of Alabama behind what is now the Blue Bird Circle store  and proceeded to knock down walls and build a second story deck with a third story tower and then a enclosing wall...all without a permit.
Collaborative drawings and paintings were  weekly lessons then collaborative shows at The U. of St. Thomas. Joe Tate's Backyard and The Camping Show were outstanding examples. Ideas...painting, drawing and  objects devoured us. The Professor has  home movies  on a DVD of many these events .The Professor thanks the Bascilian Fathers of St. Thomas for their endulgance. He was chair at ST. Thomas but Bob and Joe  became ever more divorced from teaching and were always in conflict at Rice...finally leaving teaching.  The Professor hired Joe at St. Thomas and within a year had to let him go and in 1974 the Holding Firm broke up. The Professor moved to his own studio on Peveto and then after his divorce to a house on Hickory and had no contact with them. Joe moved back to California  and Bob moved to a small studio in Waugh Drive. Bob was now divorced and several meaningful romances left him broken hearted.The Professor connected again and we began our friendship on a  less intense level. His small place was a treasure tableau of the curious and outragous that he had collected or traded was as entering a wizard's den. The Professor knows of no photos recording that space.There Bob produced wondrous work and entertained those who came by. Bob owned a Mr. Peanut costume/shell in which he often portrayed himself; signing many works Mr. Peanut and finally Anonymous..Then he stopped...selling or giving all the  treasure away. He met Nancy and they move to Oregon and then to Louisiana and we saw him no more. He did come back for a quick visit a to see Joe (who had returned) before he died. Bob was uncomfortable back in Houston and with his old friends who wanted to Know...and slippery as Bob was he quickly disappeared. We never heard from him except via proxies and we know nothing of his life or work. Recently his supporters in Houston tried to organize a show of his work at a Houston Museum to no avail. After his stroke there was a show of his work at a frame shop to gather funds for his and Nancy's support. There must be treasures in his estate.
It has been so many years that we have missed his presense. He is forever with The Professor as a friend and teacher.


  1. Earl,

    I recall your enthusiasm and sense of fun while you were involved in your collaboration with Bob and Joe. I never knew Bob at all, and your recollection of him here explains why. What I know is that he was an artist for the sake of art, doing what his heart required. People like that often confound not only dealers and art world types, but their friends as well. So even though I didn't get to know him, I remember his work and his incredible drawing skill.

  2. I look through Joe's stuff several times in a year. A few days ago I came across one of
    Bob's painted quotes, Emerson sez.
    "So use all that is fortune,
    most men gamble with her,
    and gain all, and lose all,
    as her wheel rolls.
    But do thou leave as unlawful
    these winnings and deal with
    Cause and Effect, the chancellors
    of God. In the Will work and
    acquire, and thou hast chained
    the wheel of Chance, and shall
    sit hereafter out of fear from
    her rotations. A political victory,
    a rise of rents, the recovery of your
    sick, or the return of your absent
    friend, or some other favorable event
    raises your spirits, and you think
    good days are preparing for you
    DO NOT BELIEVE IT. Nothing can bring you
    you PEACE but yourself
    nothing can bring you
    PEACE but the TRIUMPH

  3. EARL:
    So pleased you posted this ever so revealing recollection of Bob. Met Bob, you and E.A.Carmine when Dee Dee and I lived at Loft-on-Strand, Galveston. Bob and I knew each other, mostly, when he was on Waugh Drive and had a wonderfully entertaining gallery with Nancy. Made a trade with Bob when he was still with Diane David Gallery. This trade evolved over a period of years, back and forth, until he moved to Louisiana. What an exploratory episode in off-the-wall thinking. A conceptualist for sure besides the remarkable draftsmanship.

  4. Earl,
    We don't know each other and I am writing this over two years after you posted it. I live in Maine and am writing this in a coffee shop in Ann Arbor.
    I was a student of Bob's in my freshman year at the University of Detroit in 64-65. I transverse after that year and he left as well.
    Over the MANY years since I met him, I have occasionally tried to find out more about him and finding this link this morning was my first success.
    Bob's class was unique. I began it as a 17 year old. I wasn't aware of the specialness of it till time marched on and I came to understand how ordinary everyone else's freshman architecture experience was in comparison.
    I +KNOW+ that he had more of a positive effect on me, in terms of my views on art, architecture and pretty much everything else, than any of the other remarkable people I subsequently encountered in my life.
    Thanks for a lot of info on Bob before and after he crossed my path, and changed it hugely for the better.