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Cancer claims life of celebrated Surrey artist Robert Genn

Artist Robert Genn in his studio

SURREY — Pancreatic cancer has claimed the life of noted artist Robert Genn, whose home studio in the Crescent Beach area was his creative playground. He had celebrated his 78th birthday just two weeks prior to his death, which occured on the morning of Tuesday, May 27, at home, surrounded by family.

Genn was a prolific painter known for landscapes based on his travels around the world. He wrote three books and also snapped more than 165,000 photographs as reference material for his many oils, acrylics, drawings, lithos, serigraphs and other works.

Last October, soon after his doctor told him about the cancer, Genn had begun the "sad but fun" process of sorting through a lifetime of his work, with the help of his daughter Sara, also an artist.

On Thursday, Sara made public the news of her father's death via The Painter's Keys website Robert had used for his popular Twice-Weekly Letters, at

"My brother Dave's Airedale, Stanley lay on the floor nearby," Sara wrote. "This day was also my, and my twin brother James's, birthday."

Sara has spent months helping her father divide his work into "destroy," "sign" and "keep" categories.

In a website post last October, Robert wrote: "Having been through similar situations with several artists who happened to be dear friends, one of my concerns is that substandard Robert Genn paintings don't get out onto the market.... For years I've been telling artists to do it now, not later. Today we find ourselves doing it now."

Sara will continue writing for The Painter's Keys website, which will also include previous posts written by her father.

In a 2008 interview with the Now, Robert said he's never been busier painting.

"And it drives me crazy," he scoffed. "I'm 72, and most of my friends are retired, and they'll phone me up on a Tuesday morning and say, 'Robert, I've got a bottle of Glenfiddich, I'm coming over this afternoon.' And I say, 'Don't come! I'm busy.' If they come with scotch, I'm done for the day, and you don't want to be drunk when trying to get work done, that's for sure."



Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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