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Goodbye, Barton (November 16, 1942 - May 30, 2012)

I was sitting in my gaming chair this evening, getting ready for "battle" when I heard Gwenn gasp.  "Who died?" I asked, half-expecting to hear some other type of information or, at worst, the name of a random celebrity who had actually passed.  Gwenn clicked a couple of more times on the laptop and then said, "Barton."

My heart sank.

Barton Lidice Benes was an invaluable member of the AIDS community and, well, the community at large.  I met him through Sean Strub- and if you want to meet Barton I highly suggest that you get to know him a little bit through Sean's written word on his blog entry dedicated to the memory of his great friend.  Barton challenged the art world by creating a series of works entitled "Lethal Weapons" because the pieces included his own HIV positive blood.  I'll never forget his support of my own art- my music- and how he let me use an incredible image of a squirt gun shooting his blood as a CD cover.  Years later, when Gwenn and I got married, a package arrived in the mail a couple of weeks later. It was a red squirt gun shooting his blood, immaculately framed in the same way he framed much of his work. It was instantly my favorite gift in recent memory.

And still is.

He was a loving soul.  I remember, years ago, having a white russian with him in his apartment. It must have been 2 pm in the afternoon. I'd never had a drink in the afternoon before.  When I played a show in New York City two years ago, and once again used his artwork for the cover image of the CD, I wanted to drop one off for him but he was struggling with his health so I didn't want to impose.  I don't regret not pressing the issue, as a friend I wanted to let him rest- but I do hate that his final years were inhibited by the cruelty of a body that turns on its host.  In his case, it was his kidneys.  He also had problems with his lungs.  When I think of Barton, though, I don't think of his failing kidneys, lungs or even his HIV status.  I think of his kind heart. 

His beautiful heart.

You will be missed, Barton.  The next time I have a white russian, you will be toasted my friend.

Positively Yours,

Shawn on:


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Comments on Shawn Decker's blog entry "Goodbye, Barton (November 16, 1942 - May 30, 2012)"

My heart is with you and all the people who Barton's life touched.

I to have lost 2 of my dearest friends to HIV/AIDS Both before there time we share a life time of memorys SoI do understand how you felt about Barton Now that I am positive my self I wonder will I have friends who will miss me that way cheers to white russian's my favorite also

I met Barton many times years ago in NYC... He was a wonderful man and its very sad to hear he has gone. I lost touch with him when I moved over to Europe. He always called me BUCK. Long story.. That was his nick name for me. He is the reason I got started with the Drap Art project for Creative Recycling in Europe. I will remember him going thru his apartment and explaining every piece of art in his apartment and where it came from. The one that made me cry was the Hour Glass with his two friends ashes in it that traveled the world together.. Magical man.. We are talking alot of art in that loft. Hope the museum will do him justice with his pieces art about Aids and how he touched so many poeple by his art. . What a strong funny man. He will be missed very much in the world. Douglas

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Since 2000, Shawn and Gwenn have been speaking about sexual health together, sharing their personal story and empowering others to be safe. If you are interested in having them speak at your event, fill out the Contact Us form.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Shawn Decker published on May 31, 2012 2:37 AM.

New Issue of Poz, The Poz Army and 25 Years was the previous entry in this blog.

Labtest Contest VII: Numb to the Numbers! is the next entry in this blog.

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