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Artists : Petar Perisic

With profound sadness, we are sorry to report that our dear friend and colleague Petar died September 30th, 2008 of a heart attack. Our hearts go out to Petar's family, his wife Suzanne, and to all who loved him.

Links:
In Memory of Petar Perisic
We miss you, Petar!

Thoughts on Petar

We would often run into Petar at openings. His height made him easy to find. Pete, always in mid-conversation would acknowledge us, poke a finger toward the ceiling and we would negotiate our respective conversations working our ways toward each other in the crowd. Whether it took five minutes or twenty five minutes we could expect his characteristically big hug, a grin from ear to ear and his full attention. It was never a formality for him when he asked what was happening in our lives. He was always genuinely engaged, looking for opportunities to help, to be involved, to make meaningful connections.

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His legacy is love, which he generously shared without inhibition and the crowds that attended his events reciprocated. But this love extended into all aspects of his life. I believe that his love of community drove him as an architect, his desire for excellence and creativity in architecture an understanding of human needs. I recall a wonderful and sensitive design for multi-generational family housing in Mexico. His involvement in the arts is yet another example of Petar stepping up to fill community needs, first helping to fill a void by opening Flux Gallery with Ken Miracle and even curating exhibitions for COVA Gallery while working full time as an architect. When he recognized a dearth of discussion in San Diego about environmental issues, he created PERI-scope, an art exhibition space dedicated to this purpose. Its reinterpretation of shipping containers as architecture is innovative, but this innovation was not for self-promotion but rather to draw attention to the cause. When he found it difficult to secure a permit for the opening event, he procured a permit for a block party and hundreds poured into the street, invigorating the waning neighborhood. In creating humane environments and addressing urban blight, Pete always chose intervention over inaction. It was always about love.

A couple of dinners with Petar stand out in our minds, memorable mostly because they were among the occasions when we spent time alone with him, a rarity for a man who attracted a following. The first was before the opening of PERIscope project. We told him that we took pride in his accomplishments, that his work was visionary and that his ability and will to see his vision through to completion made him unique. He accepted our compliment, then deflected it back to us (not one to accept a compliment without offering one in return). It was not enough for him to bask in his successes, he wanted to facilitate success in those around him and he often went to great lengths to connect his friends, help them write grants, apply for public art projects and residencies. Petar's vision for change and renewal was as contagious as his ever present smile and he wanted all around him to share in both.

A few months ago we had a marathon chat session at a local coffeehouse followed by a walk to Agitprop gallery (Northpark) to check out their latest show. When we arrived the owners gravitated to Petar and we soon learned that they were his former students. Petar had been a driving force inspiring them to rehab the raw space and open this innovative gallery. He wanted us to meet.

Networking is an inadequate term. Pete created chain reactions. We will all have to try harder in his absence to solidify the community that he so effortlessly brought together. ~ Larry and Debby Kline