1935 - Birth
Born November 9th, New York City, Robert C. Bassler to Joan Covey Bassler and Robert Stein Bassler. Family moves to London in 1936, returning to live in Los Angeles in 1939.
1940-43 Early Years
Introduced to drawing and watercolor painting by mother and grandmother. Family vacations at Lake Arrowhead impart strong early appreciation for the natural world. Christmas gift of an electric train is the beginning of fascination with building model environments.
Pursues drawing and painting at school and at home. Acquires easel, oil pastels, watercolor and oil paints. Receives increasing recognition at school for art work . Boy Scout activities strengthen earlier love and respect for nature through hiking and camping. Wins high school scholarship to attend Chouinard Art Institute.
1953-57 Bard College, New York
Discovers sculpture and commits to it with sculpture professor Harvey Fite as his mentor and advisor. Drawing and painting continue as secondary interests with Stefan Hirsch and Louis Schanker. Spends a winter field study term living at Fite's property near Woodstock and working on his quarry reclamation project "Opus 40". Learns construction and stage design skills while working on Bard's Coach House Theater. Builds small A-frame studio from recycled materials in woods with his friend Dick Avery,'56. After near expulsion, he improves his academic performance, becomes a teaching assistant for the sculpture program and teaches clay modeling privately off campus. Ends senior year with a successful Senior Project: "Seclusion", more commonly known as "the Bard Nymph", a life-size fountain sculpture for the Blithwood formal garden pool on campus.
1957-60 U. S. C. Graduate Studies
Accepted into MFA Program, studies sculpture with Merrill Gage, figure drawing with Francis deErdely and painting with Edgar Ewing. Gage retires and is replaced by Harold Gebhardt who offers more contemporary perspective on sculpture. Learns oxyacetylene welding, also completes first wood construction. Serves six months obligatory reserve military training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri Acting as the company artist, completes numerous murals and paintings. After recovering from spinal fusion surgery, completes his thesis,"Figure Related Sculpture for an Architectural Environment", to earn his MFA degree in 1960.
1960-64 - Early Work,
Shares studio and living quarters in Altadena with sculptor George Baker, a sculptor friend from USC. Recommended to replace USC Prof. Harold Gebhardt as part-time sculpture instructor at Occidental College. Exhibits in various juried museum competitions and has first solo exhibition at the Comara Gallery in Los Angeles, 1961. Early sixties work in metal and wood emphasizes constructivist methods.
Marries Occidental College art student Lynn Marie Allen on her graduation day, 1964. Moves to Encino and builds studio adjoining their house using recycled materials. Begins teaching full time at San Fernando Valley State College, Fall 1964. As sculpture department thrives, artists David Elder and John Canavier are hired to handle expanded course load in a new 7,500 sq.ft. sculpture facility, the Halsted Art Annex.
Earlier abstract constructions evolve into the "Anatome" series, organic- biomorphic forms, at first mostly wood, then mixed media incorporating transparent polyester resin. Artist in Residence program at California Institute of Technology provides environmentally controlled facility for casting resin; faculty research grant enables series of large, transparent "Lenticular" sculptures. Produces 16mm film, "Variations", of abstract light patterns within the sculptures.
Granted one-year leave of absence as San Fernando Valley State College gains University status to become California State University, Northridge. "Lenticular" series shipped to England. Begins year in Europe with Lynn, exhibitions and lectures in London, Paris and West Berlin. "Roadshow" photograph series of road related imagery inspired by travels in camper van throughout western Europe.
Achieves full professorship at CSUN upon return to California. Moves to new home in Northridge. Remodels in Craftsman style with recycled materials. Builds a new studio. "Barricade" series begins, based on European "Roadshow" photographs, followed by "Cliffwall" series.
Organizes CSUN Sculpture Park Associates to promote projects on campus. Cliffwall series evolves to more dimensional tetrahedral forms and to exploration of pyramidal forms in a series of models for large-scale projects. Sabbatical trip to Europe is highlighted by meeting with Count Panza in Italy with a personal tour of his Light and Space collection. Inspired by images from outer space, begins to incorporate paintings of Earth on triangular wall and tetrahedral forms.
Executes proposal for the Peace Garden, Washington, D.C., in collaboration with artist David Feinner and landscape architect Steven Ormenyi. Installs large-scale works for CSUN campus. Begins large paintings on canvas, based on satellite views of weather patterns. Builds another studio at home for Lynn. Baptized into Kirk O'the Valley Presbyterian Church. Installs large steel "Niner Arc" sculpture outside the front of church.
After sabbatical trip to Europe and visit to sites of ancient Celtic crosses, returns to construct 10 foot Celtic Cross for the Kirk o'the Valley's Meditation Garden. Devotes most of studio time to "Vortex", "Gathered Forces" and "Void" paintings.
Elected to administrative role, coordinating the reorganization of CSUN's four Art Departments into single entity. January 1994 earthquake devastates CSUN campus.
Celebrates sixtieth birthday in 1995. Completes work on "Elemental Oppositions" a mixed media pyramidal installation. Works with curator Sharon Emanuelli to organize thirty-six year survey exhibition, "Changing Light", for Fall, 1997. Related solo exhibition simultaneously on view at the Orlando Gallery. Retires from CSUN teaching position in December 1997.
1998 - 2007
Develops and concentrates upon the "Burst" series of paintings related to his "Suncloud" photographs. Photoshop softwear is utilized as a tool to explore possible interpretations of his photos, resulting in dramatic, explosive works.
Bob and Lynn embark on a demanding construction project that involves the demolition of their home of twenty five years, and a creative collaboration with architect Craig Townsend. The resulting new Northridge home wins an AIA Honors Award for the year of 2002, and becomes a favorite gathering place for many of their friends and associates.