Robert A. Dhaemers, Artist

Robert A. Dhaemers, an artist who worked in sculpture, jewelry, prints, and photography and had his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottowa, the Oakland Museum of California, the Elaine Benson Gallery in Bridgehampton, and the De Young Museum in San Francisco, among others, died on March 12 at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, Calif. He was 87.

Mr. Dhaemers split his time between Springs and Oakland. 

Described as an “organic modernist,” he had attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley, graduating in 1952. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree there two years later.

He went on to teach at Mills College in Oakland until his retirement in 1984, and there he met his future wife, Grace Searing, known to her friends as Ty. She graduated from Mills in 1962, and the two were married the next year. 

It was she who introduced him to Montauk, her summer home from 1951 until her death in 1992, and Mr. Dhaemers "fell in love with the marine environment," his family wrote. They summered in a house on Lake Montauk, where they enjoyed waterskiing on the lake and "plying the seas for bluefish and tuna. While he was born far from the ocean, Mr. Dhaemers had served in the Navy and loved boating and fishing. 

During the academic year, they lived amid the redwoods in the Oakland hills in California. The couple also enjoyed traveling the world. One year, while he was on sabbatical, they toured Mexico in a Volkswagen bus, accompanied by their three Afghan hounds. They had also visited Tahiti, Europe, parts of Africa, Latin America, and Canada.

Mr. Dhaemers was "a superb craftsman of inventive originality," wrote his sister-in-law Helen Searing of Montauk. "He was also something of a mechanical genius who could fix anything." 

Mr. Dhaemers was born on Nov. 24, 1926, to Marshall Dhaemers and the former Augusta Verdick in Luverne, Minn.

He was “a kind and caring individual, ever ready to help those in need,” Ms. Searing wrote.

He is survived by a brother, Larry Dhaemers, a sister, Dorothy Dhaemers, and his nephew, Mark Dhaemers of Las Vegas, Colo., who cared for him in the final months of his life.

A memorial service will be held in Montauk in June. Mr. Dhaemers’s ashes will be dispersed in the ocean.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Ocean Conservancy, P.O. Box 96003, Washington, D.C. 20090-6003, or the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, P.O. Box 515, Northampton, Mass. 01061.

 


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