Filmmaker David Lynch is donating to the Annapolis Senior Activity Center in memory of Bushnell “Bush” Keeler, a center art teacher who died in August 2012. Lynch will give the donation to the center to provide scholarships for seniors studying art at the center. The donation will also provide their art supplies.
The idea for the scholarship program originated with Keeler’s eldest daughter, Win Jenkins. She was driving back to her home in Colorado after spending a week in Annapolis watching her dad go from bad to worse. On the way home, she thought about how much her dad enjoyed teaching art at the Annapolis Senior Activity Center and how nice it would be to do something for the center in his memory. A painter and drawer herself, she came up with the scholarship idea and called her brother Toby Keeler in Los Angeles, an old high school friend of David’s. From there, the idea mushroomed. A longtime friend of the Keeler family, Lynch offered to fund the program.
“I met David when I was 15-years old,” said Keeler’s step-son, Toby Keeler. “I told him that my father was a painter.”
“Meeting Bush and discovering ‘the artist’s life’ profoundly changed David’s life forever,” Toby continued. “Both he and another high school friend Jack Fisk never looked back, and to this day vigorously pursue the fine arts, from painting and drawing to music and cinema.”
On a website, “The Artistry of Bushnell Keeler,” Lynch is quoted as saying, “Artist Bushnell Keeler can paint anything he wants.” The website calls Keeler “a master of many mediums” who “never duplicates the same thing twice.” It shows 12 of his works, including oils, watercolors, pencil and felt tip pen.
Keeler taught Lynch art and recommended that he check out the American Film Institute. During Lynch’s filmmaking career he received three Academy Award nominations for best director and a nomination for best screenplay. Lynch was creator and executive producer of the American television serial drama, Twin Peaks. He received outstanding critical acclaim for directing and writing this drama series. Keeler flew P 51s in the Pacific during World War II. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in economics, but even then he showed a flare for art, serving as cartoon editor of the Jack-O-Lantern college humor magazine. After graduating from Dartmouth, he worked in industry. Later he returned to American University to graduate with a fine arts degree. During his life, he was an artist, teacher and picture framer. For the past 10 years, Keeler has taught art to seniors at the center.
“Bush taught us all an important life lesson,” Toby said, “that doing what you love is an essential part of living a happy and fulfilled life. Thanks to David’s generosity, a scholarship fund has been established at the Annapolis Senior Activity Center, and offered to deserving student painters who reflect the creative and artistic spirit of Bushnell Keeler.”
The center will accept Lynch’s donation and a donation from Keeler’s family during a ceremony Oct. 18 at 1 p.m. at the center. During the ceremony a “leaf” plaque will also be hung on the center’s Memorial Tree.
The metal tree of life which hangs in the center’s foyer was unveiled in November 2011 as a way for Annapolis Senior Activity Center members to pay tribute to deceased friends and family members. As center members and their families make donations in memory of their loved ones, plaques are added as leaves to the tree.
For others who would like to make a donation in memory of a member, call Becky Batta at 410-222-1818 or e-mail Annapoliscenter@aacounty.org.