Rescued Art 19: Bruce-Pitcairn-Strachan “Drinking Pale”

Artist: Bruce Pitcairn StrachanTitle: UntitledSize: 9″ x 11″, Framed: 13″ x 16″Date: 1973Medium: Oil/Acrylic on Panel BiographyBruce PITCAIRN STRACHAN (1931-2011) was a painter, pianist, writer, actor, and dancer. Born April 23, 1931 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the second of three children and the eldest son of Engineer John E. (Jack) Strachan, Jr. and writer Margaret (Peg) Pitcairn Strachan, Bruce moved with family several times during the Depression ‘30’s. Though a Cornell Graduate father Jack had to build a cabin in the Bucks County woods and sell eggs door to door to survive. The three children thought it a grand place to live. At eight years of age while living in Hartford, Connecticut Bruce was given a banjo. He was playing it like “Al Jolson” within a week but it was a limiting instrument and Bruce then discovered the piano when the family moved to Seattle in 1941 for father Jack to act as Norton Company consultant to Boeing Company. Bruce could not read a note but within a week he could play “Onward Christian Soldiers.” A few months and he could sit at the piano and family guests would name a song (and hum it if Bruce didn’t know it) and Bruce would instantly play “Stardust” or “Begin the Beguine” or “In the Mood.” Not just the melody. A full blown Bruce arrangement with the subtle, minor chord flourishes. He was twelve. 

During his years at Bothell High Bruce discovered the dance. He would drive the family Packard into Seattle with friend Marilyn Peppin and attend the All City Dances. The popular dance of those late ‘40’s was The Avalon, and Bruce and Marilyn were the winners of several city-wide, slow sliding, long dipping Avalon competitions.

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