GARY E. BACHERS LEARNING THE LANGUAGE OF ART
Art was not the first career for Gary E. Bachers, who was a family-practice physician in a small northeast Texas town for ten years before a debilitating stroke forced him to retire from medicine at the age of 38. Himself a Canadian, he had moved with his wife Gabrielle to Texas after graduating from medical school at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, his hometown. Recruited to practice at a small hospital serving rural communities, Bachers had a successful but brief career in Texas: the stroke left him with expressive aphasia (the inability to speak or produce conventional language), and paralysis on the right side of his body. Unable to practice medicine, Bachers had to relearn not only how to live inside his own body, but also how to continue living a satisfying and productive life.
As part of his stroke-recovery therapy, Bachers had to first learn to hold a pencil in his left hand. After his frustrating realization that he could not, however, form words with the pencil, Bachers eventually started sketching flowers from his wife’s garden. With colored pencils he began perfecting his compositions of lilies, peonies, irises, and birds of paradise. Bachers seemed to develop his own language of design as his art evolved from simple monotone sketches to meticulous and brilliantly colorful composition. Mandalas, human figures, insects, and architecture feature in many of the works, but the full moon is the most pervasive element in the Bachers artistic lexicon, as if to mark not only the brief moment of spectacular beauty but also each composition’s place in the cosmos.