About one year after David Tracy lost his life’s work – about 1,000 paintings – in a house fire, the Kirkland resident will have his first art show featuring the new art he’s created since.
“He’s an oil painter,” said Ken Stodola, the owner of Tsuga Fine Art in Bothell, where the art show will take place. “He paints all landscapes now. He just has this great style, realism, but with this impressionistic twist on them now.”
Last April, Tracy, 76, not only lost his paintings, 750 of which were listed on eBay at the time, but he lost his two-story house with a private studio and his beloved husky Max in a “burning inferno.”
“I did it,” Tracy said. “I was smoking on the back porch. I had all the rooms repainted so I didn’t want to smoke inside.”
Tracy said he placed his cigarette in a big tub where he kept the butts but not quite carefully enough.
“An hour later, the dog went racing through and usually he would run up if there was someone standing at the front door,” Tracy recalled. “But the fact that he ran through the house bothered me, so I thought maybe there was someone in the backyard.”
An intruder wasn’t in the backyard but a raging fire was. It had reached from the back porch to the attic, near his art studio.
Frantic, Tracy ran to his neighbor’s house to call 911 after he realized his phone was out of order. But in doing so, he had accidentally locked himself out of his house.
Thinking the fire wasn’t as bad as it was, Tracy refrained from kicking the door or breaking a window to get in until it was too late.
“It was just horrific,” he said. “You couldn’t have gotten on your hands and knees or anything to get in and I kept telling all the firemen, ‘Get my dog’ but it was a burning inferno in there and they weren’t gonna go in at all.”
Nearly choking up, Tracy said Max was lost in the fire, along with his hundreds of clothes, and his pieces that captured landscapes of New Mexico, Italy, the Middle East and New York, among others.
“There’s nothing you can do,” he said. “Here you are, you’ve got four, five trucks all around … The neighbor over here brought me a chair to sit in and we stood here and watched.”
In the 26 years Tracy had lived at his Kingsgate home, he was just meeting some of his “very gracious” neighbors for the first time.
“Someone said ‘I notice you don’t have shoes’ and asked for my size,” he said. “And I told them, ‘Oh, 11-and-a-half and they brought me back three pairs of shoes. I still have them, I still wear them all the time. It was really nice.”
Tracy’s insurance covered the rebuild of his house, set him up in a hotel and later an apartment, but he only received $1,500 for his work. He said he hadn’t registered as a business, so he could only be compensated for it as a hobby.
Tracy has since gotten a 10-week-old husky puppy that he calls “Max 2.”
And about six months ago, Tracy started to paint again with the help of Stodola.
“I offered him my studio space whenever it was available,” Stodola said, adding that he’s known Tracy since 2011. “I think that sparked him as, ‘Oh, OK I have a place to do it now’ and got him back on the saddle.”
Eventually, Tracy made space in his apartment to paint and was able to generate about 20 pieces for the upcoming art show.
“His style has loosened up since then,” Stodola said. “Painters are always evolving too. This show, he’s got paintings from the Southwest and California.”
Tracy said he prefers painting scenery and buildings with plenty of color, and his strengths include predicting and reconstructing specific color in his paints.
When his eBay account was activated, he would sell 30-40 paintings a year to as far away as Australia and Dubai, and was painting one painting a day for about 13 years, noting that he retired in 2000 from Boeing.
“It’ll take me another 15 years but I’ll do it again,” Tracy said with a smile.
Slowly but surely, Tracy looks forward to recreating his landscapes that will go for $400 to $600 a piece.
Tsuga Fine Art will feature Tracy’s art from May 30 to July 15. An opening reception to kick off the showing will be from 5-8 p.m. on May 30. Tsuga is located at 10101 Main St., Ste. A in Bothell.
For more information on the art show, visit www.tsugafineart.com.