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Southern Voices’ is a reader-submitted platform for stories from the heart. Today’s submission comes from StyleBlueprint Editorial Director Ashley Haugen. If you have a story to tell, see our guidelines for submission here.

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I first met Brian Nash at Home Depot maybe six or seven years ago. My husband Scott and he were friends from the music business, and they bumped into each other, fittingly, in the paint department. I got the quick background of their friendship, and then they caught each other up on what they’d been up to since they last saw one another. Interestingly, they both had new careers, having left the music business behind — Scott working in healthcare, and Brian as an artist, a path that had beautifully evolved from the corporate marketing world into one that felt more comfortable and “on brand.” (Pun intended.).

Brian Nash

Brian Nash

As Scott and I drove home from Home Depot that day, I looked up Brian’s website. I fell in love with a piece that featured a wandering chick named Cornelius. I called Brian and asked if I could buy it. A day or two later, I was at his studio, where all I saw were countless canvases — thousands, probably. He was a painting machine! And yet, every single piece he created was unique … and perfect. Pregnant with my daughter, this piece became the foundation around which every other nursery decor decision was made.

Brian and I became fast friends in Home Depot that day … though, I don’t know that he’d ever met a stranger. He was “what you see is what you get” —my kind of people. Just as his career evolved into something so beautiful and creative, so, too, did his art — from animals to fashion to his most recent works featuring pop culture icons like Snoopy and Bugs Bunny, he literally never stopped painting.

Brian posted his newest works every day on Facebook. Each title and caption illustrates his sense of humor. This painting, a 36-by-36-inch acrylic that he posted on March 24, is titled, “Skittles is taking this opportunity to read all those books she’s been lying about having read for all these years.” He included a humorous postscript:
“UPDATE: She just finished ‘Love in the Time of Cholera.’ She now thinks it is an instruction manual.” Image: Brian Nash/Facebook

His paintings are vibrant, and the titles are simply perfect. This one is titled “Back in the Saddles.” Image: Brian Nash/Facebook

Most recently, Brian was painting pop culture icons like Snoopy and Charlie Brown, among others. This one is titled “Shooting Star.” Image: Brian Nash/Facebook

Last Friday morning, I woke up, and when I opened Facebook, I saw a message that Brian Nash had invited me to a private group of the same name. Odd, I thought, but I joined, and that’s where I learned the news. Brian was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2018, and the treatments he’d tried hadn’t worked. Per Brian, he had weeks left. As the group numbers climbed — people just like me waking and accepting their invitations to the group — people began sharing their Brian Nash stories — tales of his art hanging on their walls, songs they’d written with him during his stint as a Nashville songwriter, touching memories of how they’d met or adventures they’d shared. Words like “kind-hearted,” “generous,” “funny,” “supportive” and all the other warm descriptions we should all hope are used to describe us were poured out in tribute — and in abundance. And he read them and responded to them. What a wonderful gift he gave us — to have the opportunity to say goodbye in whatever way felt right.

I fell in love with Cornelius from the moment I saw him. He’s hung in my daughter’s room since before she was born.

Brian Nash passed away on Monday, May 18, 2020. The tributes continue to be posted in that Facebook group — memories of his kindness, his humor, his distaste for being photographed. The one overarching sentiment that is abundantly clear, though, is that Brian Nash was a LOVED human being. And every time I see Cornelius in my daughter’s bedroom, I will relish the fact that he reciprocated that same love to each and every one of us who had the honor of calling him friend.

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