I’ve known Brian for nearly as long as I’ve been alive; certainly as long as I can remember. He and my dad worked together at the Topeka Capitol Journal beginning when I was around 4 years old. When Brian and his family moved out to Oregon it was due to his encouraging dad to interview at the Eugene Register Guard that we relocated as well, undoubtedly completely changing the direction my life ended up taking.
Thanksgivings at the Lanker house and Halloween with Brian playing the part of “Mogo” and “terrifying” the many kids that gathered each year at the Newnham’s house remain among the best memories I have. Brian’s eye for beauty and love for life were evident in the art he created and the food he loved. Brian and Lynda’s kitchen is still my favorite I’ve ever been in.
While his book “I Dream a World, Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America” may be his best known work, for me I’ll always treasure the autographed poster of Paulina Porizkova that he gave me after shooting the 1984 swimsuit issue for Sports Illustrated as well as the accompanying story of dinner with she and husband Ric Ocasek (no way!!!). Years later I was able to relay the story back to Ric when I met him at CBGB while on tour with my own band. He remembered the dinner with Brian and laughed when I presented a picture of myself in drag, signed, for him to give his wife as a thank-you from 16-year-old me.
I’m very sad to hear of Brian’s death this past Sunday and would have dearly loved to be able to see him just one more time. Thankfully my own kids got the opportunity to jump all over him (well, Rowan did most of the jumping) five years ago during a trip back to Eugene. My thoughts are with Lynda, Julie, Jackie, and Dustin. Love to you all. Goodbye Brian.
NYTimes look back at a truly amazing talent: http://tinyurl.com/6gyl2hd