By Marianne Szymanski
The celebration of one man’s passion for art
Tim Lyons was a son, a brother, an uncle, a brother-in-law and a best friend. His brother, Tony, and sisters Angela and Maureen remember him as a kind, creative person who loved his family and friends dearly.
A Wauwatosa resident growing up on Lefeber Avenue, Tim was educated at Roosevelt Elementary, St. Pius X Grade School. and Messmer High School (Class of 1983). There he excelled at photography which became a hobby and passion of his. After graduation, he attended UW-Eau Claire and earned an undergraduate Business Administation degree from UW-Milwaukee. He then received an MBA from Esade University in Barcelona, Spain.
Tim left Wauwatosa to explore and live in other places such as Portland, Denver, and Spain for many years. There he furthered his interest in photography and his love of art. He found his passion in museums, galleries, craft fairs, music and creative venues that highlighted individual expression.
But on January 29, 2014 Tim died from a seizure disorder. Suffering his whole life from epilepsy, his family was not expecting to receive a call that he was just… gone.
Andrea Spella, Tim’s best friend from his teenage years in Wauwatosa, owns a coffee shop in Portland, OR which Tim frequented often. On one of the many visits to Spella Caffe, he took a picture of a cup of coffee that would create a family project, a loving remembrance and a touching memorial event back in Wisconsin.
The Lyons family mourned Tim’s loss but also found a way to celebrate his life in a non-traditional way to bring art, the sense of community and individual talent together.
Tim’s nieces, Maria and Isabel , and sister-in-law, Jen, came up with an idea to recollect their memories of Tim. Instead of a conversation of stories, they created a storytelling conversation of art. All very artistic and creative, they wanted to use their talent in memory of their uncle and brother-in-law.
The project began when Jen sent a random picture that Tim photographed of a cup of coffee to Maria. Maria is a high school artist who loves to draw. She carefully reviewed the picture of the coffee cup and saw that the numbers “1913” were written in cream. That inspired her to paint a picture of Janet Schiff. Janet is a very close friend of Tim’s who plays the cello and is a member of a band called “1913”. Maria then gave her painting to Jen, who used her own creativity to create a paper shadowbox rendition of Maria’s photo. Then Paul (brother-in-law) made an original sculpture that he handed to his 8 year old son, Mickey who made a 3D LEGO display. Tim’s mother, Barbara, made a deconstructed painting of Mickey’s model.
Enough pieces were now created and the story was ready to be told so the family got to work on the planning. As a tribute to Tim and his interest in art and his own artistic talent, The Lyons Art Showcase was opened to family and friends held at The Grocery in Brewers Hill.
Other family members added to the exhibit by showcasing their own talents. Tim’s oldest niece, Felicia, a fashion student at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, designed runway pieces in gorgeous fabric. Sister, Angela, created a painting in a YOGA/meditation class. Isabel and Maria contributed paintings and drawings from their art classes. Brother Tony, a carpenter and craftsman who creates theater sets and builds homes as a career, contributed his skill of gorgeous wooden furniture pieces. Tim’s father, a hobby woodworker, made a very touching wooden cradle. When Tim’s mother added the blanket crocheted by her mother, the story of the Lyons family’s talent and art was told. A special feature was Tim’s photography on display. At the event, Janet Schiff and niece Isabel, a teenager who plays the violin exceptionally well, used their collective talent to play music to entertain guests.
Art can be an unspoken word displayed through the eyes of others. This touching and memorable way to honor and appreciate Tim’s life was created out of love by those who cared the most for him.