The mad genius of Fort Worth’s art world is dead.
Scott Gentling died at his home on Tuesday after a stroke. The artist, writer, historian, and all-around deep thinker was 68.
“He had the most unique mind,” said Charles Ellenberger, a commercial photographer who helped Gentling publish his final art book, The One Reed Year. “He was like Leonardo da Vinci. Working with him was a pure joy. I would have paid to work with him, he was that good. This town — this country — has lost a national treasure.”
Sam Hudson profiled Gentling and his twin brother, Stuart Gentling, in this Fort Worth Weekly cover story in 2004. (Stuart Gentling died in 2006).
Today’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram story on Gentling’s death is here.
My own run-in with the private, fascinating — and, on that particular day, soused — Gentling is covered in this Blotch post from 2008.
The first sentence he ever spoke to me: “I don’t talk to no long-haired sons of bitches.” The second: “Do you have any wine?”
I also reported on his commissioned portrait of Amon Carter Jr. that year.
The most recent press on Gentling was in the January edition of 360 West, which scored a photo essay and article on the camera-shy artist regarding The One Reed Year, the culmination of his lifelong obsession with Aztec culture.
Of course, interviewing and photographing such a capricious character wasn’t easy. Gentling canceled a couple of appointments and, as was his habit, was coy, recalled 360 West Editorial Director Meda Kessler.
“He let us photograph him a little bit — in his Scott way,” Kessler said. “I could tell he bought new tennis shoes and a shirt for the photo shoot. But, since you’ve dealt with him too, you know how he is about getting his picture taken.”
The 360 West photo depicts Gentling with his head down, hat brim obscuring much of his face.
A couple of years back I’d fought the same battle, suggesting, encouraging, cajoling, and finally pleading Gentling to remove a painting from in front of his face while I was trying to take a photo. The guy who had painted portraits of Carter, George W. Bush, and many other Texas notables was holding what he described as one of his first attempts at portraiture, depicting friend and fellow Tulane University schoolmate Owen Minnich in 1961.