He was a formidable presence at Ilam art school in the 1960s. A highly regarded painter trying to instill some design sense into young kids, quite a few of us untrained idiots who gave him little but grief. But, as is so often the case in retrospect, the firmness was covering an introspective sensitivity and a genuine desire for us to succeed.
Later, when the odds were a little more in our favour, we also found how kind and generous Don could be. The few visits to his studio revealed him as an artist at constant play. Not sure if it was Don who first told us the John Cage maxim, “take something, do something to it, do something else,” but it might as well have been.
One New York Winter it was Don who sat with Pippin in a very cold and rather grim apartment and gave us two evenings free to see Laurie Anderson perform United States at BAM. It was also Don who was reading the map upside down when he was supposed to be navigating us to Philadelphia to see the Duchamps (ok, so he wasn’t perfect). We heard that Don was in the Christchurch Art Gallery recently looking at the shows and checking out some of his work. That sounds right. Like many of you, we offer our condolences to his wife Prue and his kids.