Smith: Photo brings prize-winning painting lost in Tubbs fire back to life

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If you lost paintings to the 2017 fires, Lynn Hale has a story for you.

The retired Sonoma Valley educator grew up in an art-graced home in San Francisco. Her favorite painting was an oil landscape of the Russian River by Carl Henrik Jonnevold (1856-1955), who for a time lived next door to her parents.

Hale heard more than once that the painting won a prize at a major international exposition in San Francisco early in the 20th century. Regardless, she loved it; it evoked the summers she’d spent on the river as a kid.

In October of 2017, the painting was in the Fountaingrove home of a niece of Hale, a home that burned.

At some point after the fire, Hale lit up to receive a cellphone photograph of the painting that her niece had snapped. She shared the photo in a text to her son, Matthew, a graphic artist in Southern California.

Hale was floored to receive from Matthew a photographic copy of the painting, printed on a canvas nearly as large as the original.

“It looks like a painting,” she said. “You have to touch it to know that it’s not.”

She’s hoping others who lost paintings to the fires might have photos from which could be printed quite satisfactory, suitable-for-framing copies.

The photo-of-a-painting Hale received from her son, she said, was simply “the best present I ever got.”

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THEN THERE’S THE PIG: Before the fires, Jill Jones was tickled by the front-yard planter she’d received as a gift from her sister. It had flowering plants growing out of the back of a charming, concrete pig.

As other fire survivors can surely relate, the pig planter became all the more precious when it was one of few items to endure the disaster that destroyed Jones’ family home in Santa Rosa’s Hidden Valley neighborhood.

Though it’s quite hefty, the planter went with the Joneses to a temporary rental in Petaluma. Reconstruction of the Santa Rosa house concluded about a month ago, and it did Jones’ heart good to place the pig back where it had been.

Who would steal it? Jones can only guess, only hope that whoever carried off the pig planter will relent and bring it back.

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GIVING AWAY MONEY, a whole lot of it, is what Gladys Bates did in her golden years for fun, adventure and supreme satisfaction.

Gladys worked for decades for one of the region’s most prominent and successful businessmen: G.K. Hardt, who sold cars and invested in property. When Hardt died in 2004 at age 86, he asked Gladys to sell his properties and donate the proceeds to endeavors that improve life in Sonoma County.

It’s incredible what Gladys did.

For about 12 years, she and Linda Burille of the trust department of Exchange Bank explored the best and highest uses of Hardt’s money. They interviewed and studied potential beneficiaries.

And they gave away more than $6 million to organizations that included Social Advocates for Youth, SRJC, the Green Music Center, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center, 6th Street Playhouse, Meals on Wheels, Earle Baum Center of the Blind and on and on and on.

Gladys Bates was 90 when she died April 20. She left a lasting mark on this place, and she left feeling good about it.

That philanthropic spree “was very special to her,” said Burrille, who’s now retired from Exchange Bank. “And it was thrilling to her that she was able to fulfill G.K.’s wishes.”

You can reach Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 or chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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