A telephone interview with Anne Bruhner. The words in quotations are Anne’s.
Hans and Anne Bruhner moved to Comptche in 1990 from the Bay Area, and became very much a part of the community. Hans was retired, and Anne taught special education classes in Fort Bragg Middle School and eventually learned quilting.
Anne told me that Hans was always running; he was on the Swedish national team, and was well known in Swedish and American Senior running circles. He trained every day all around the roads in Comptche, and got to know all the neighbors. "In Sweden things are rather formal, people don’t look at each other in the subway, don’t say hello to people on the street that they haven’t been introduced to, but Hans did. His father did, and our son does. Hans was always ready to get to know new people."
"Hans grew up in Stockholm, where he loved to go to museums, art galleries, and junk stores. He became acquainted with artists, and helped them set up shows. He met people at the American Embassy, where he discovered jazz. He and his friends lived at Skansen, an open air museum on Djurgardan, an Island, where there was open space, a Zoo, museums and a huge collection of old peasant wooden houses in a village. He loved the way wood was used and worn and it became a part of him."
“Hans put together his pieces simply, and, like most Swedes had allmoge in his genes. He had a very good eye for seeing how things became a whole." (Allmoge refers to the Swedish love of traditional folk ways of building and living. For information, see Skansen’s Allmoge - what is it?)
What do you think were Hans’s major influences?
"He was influenced by his surroundings in Stockholm and the artists he met often, especially those who sculpted or painted with few strokes and the feel of everyday life. He loved the warmth of old wooden pieces, rusty metal, worn leather, and outsider art. Art, music, running, and jazz all formed him.”
"His studio was a junk store, an antique store. Every surface was covered with things he had collected, and there were piles on the floor you had to walk around, piles he would sort through and find something. He not only wanted to cover every surface in his studio, but every tabletop in the house! It was overwhelming at times. He was a genteel hoarder, but he eventually used most things. There were always pieces in progress.”