VanHyfte’s Magical Creative World Lives On After His Passing
From the time I first saw Tim VanHyfte’s artwork, not long after I moved to the Quad-Cities in the mid-’90s, I was absolutely enthralled.
VanHyfte had a beautiful, intricate, original and wonderful style that was distinctly his own.
Most of Tim’s subjects were women, and his artwork presented them as beautiful mysteries, fantastic worlds and journeys to be taken through merely the look in their eyes, the way they held themselves, the environments in which they were presented. It was reminiscent of a Gen X version of Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” — a striking image you couldn’t help be pulled into and intrigued by.
VanHyfte passed away yesterday. He’d had some health complications, and then, a little more than a week ago, he got covid. The first few days were hopeful, and then things took a turn for the worst.
I knew him in a limited fashion — we weren’t incredibly close friends, but were more like friendly acquaintances — but I greatly admired him as a creative person, and I still own two of his original artworks, as well as possibly his best known works, his album covers for Einstein’s Sister. That’s actually how I knew him best, through my good friends Kerry Tucker and Bill Douglas from Einstein’s.
Every time I saw Tim, he was incredibly friendly, amiable, and fun to talk to. We’d run into each other at various spots of interests — comic book shows, art galleries, Einstein’s shows — and every exchange was laid back, friendly, and interesting. He was an intelligent and incredibly imaginative guy, with a broad palate of interests and talents.
VanHyfte had a number of gallery showings around the area, but his work got worldwide recognition on the cover of those four Einstein’s Sister CDs, each of them a masterpiece in its own right. I remember seeing the first cover and being completely enthralled by it, and mentioning that in my review of the record, saying that it was “a welcome and perfect gateway to the brilliant sonic adventures within.”
But VanHyfte was an artist’s artist. He was always creating, whether in or out of the spotlight. One of his most notable and loved means of creative communication was through postcards he would randomly send to friends; miniature masterpieces that would arrive as keys to the world of his mind.
As Einstein’s Sister lead singer and long-time VanHyfte friend Bill Douglas posted on his Facebook, “When someone asks you for your mailing address, you wonder what the heck is coming your way. When Tim VanHyfte did it, little did I realize then how I would be so fortunate as to receive these postcard-sized works of art every so often in the mail. He called it ‘art therapy’ for his creative soul, but to me, and I imagine so many others, it was a treasure to receive time and time again in a century that is losing touch with the simple act of sending physical cards and letters through postal delivery. I’m gonna miss this.”
His friend Thomas Hernandez posted the following tribute: