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 Brydon Stewart  (1947 - )

About: Brydon Stewart
 

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Lived/Active: Washington      Known for: coin and jewelry design, draftsman, satirical drawing

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Biography from Astoria Review Artist Gallery:
Brydon Stewart, was born in 1947 in Yakima, Washington.   During the Viet Nam War, he served in the US army as a draughtsman at the Yakima Firing Range.  Upon getting out of the Army, Stewart attended Central Washington State College in Ellensburg, Washington where he majored in English but soon found his way to the art department.

In 1975 he entered a design for the United States Mint's Bicentennial coin competition.  His design was a soaring eagle silhouetted against the full moon surrounded by a circle of 13 stars.  With an eye for detail he'd drawn his own hand behind the coin, like it was in his palm.  This design was accepted as one of the top twelve designs and put him into the semi-finals where three designs were to be selected, a quarter, half dollar, and dollar.  Next he designed a three dimensional plaster cast of the coin which was a large as a dinner plate. This work got him into the finals with five other finalists.  At this point the mint requested a biography.  His biography read like it was written by Jonathon Swift, very well written but not what the judges wanted.  He won an $800 prize and signed away the rights.  The back of the Sacagawea dollar is a very similar design.  He received no other compensation or credit for his design.

Because he was working exclusively on the design for the coin, he dropped most his coursework and lost his qualification for his VA college benefits.  He went back to live in a house he'd inherited from his father in Yakima and went to work as a janitor for a year.  Then he worked in apple orchards as an irrigator and as a cartographic draughtsman for a company that designed a highly detailed map of Yakima.  His house on Nob Hill became a haven for young artists, musicians, and writers who led a bohemian existence.  It was there that he designed the famous Iguana T-shirt and started the "Iguanas", a drinking club of people with big slow-moving dreams who met informally at his place.  The house on Nob Hill became the Mother Lounge, and Brydon became the "Grand Poobah".

Debra Shapiro, a clothing designer, saw the T-shirt and wanted to produce it.  They soon moved in together and moved to Olympia, Washington where Brydon designed T-shirts and taught Lithography at Evergreen State College.  They had a son, and Brydon was delighted and spent much time raising his son.  But, financial difficulties raised their head, and Debra and Brydon divorced.

Determined to make enough money to cover the expenses of his son's education, he picked up a part time job irrigating an indoor Marijuana growing operation.  Soon the money was rolling in, and his financial difficulties evaporated; but, a sudden visit by the FEDs put the growing operation out of business, and he was sent to "Camp Happy Stupid" at Sheridan, Oregon.  There he spent two years drawing pictures of criminals and writing exhaustive letters concerning his artistic progress and the nature of the people behind bars.

Upon parole he returned to Olympia and started watering gardens and living in a camper with no electricity and riding his 12 speed for transportation.  He was employed designing jewelry and took a job caretaking an autistic young man. Meanwhile he drew a complex Hippie Tree that showed the roots and development of the hippie movement.  One day his pack was stolen and the drawing disappeared.

Following this severe setback he helped Ellensburg artist Don OConnor obtain a show of his florally oriented "Light Reactive Media" at a flower shop in Olympia. He is still working on semi-satirical letters and drawings of the hip life in Olympia, WA.


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