Donald Lee Herron of Newburgh, a well known artist and writer, died on December 25 at Castle Point Veterans Administration Hospital surrounded by some of his many friends.
Born in Brenham, Texas to Johanna and Lawrence Herron on September 8, 1941. He is survived by his sister Joan Nilsen, his niece Amy Nilsen Scaff, her husband Peter Scaff and their son, David Colton Scaff of Houston and a dear cousin John Muegge of Brenham, Texas. Don graduated from Brenham High in 1959 and served four years in the U.S. Air Force. He received a B.A. and an M.F.A. in 1972 from the University of Texas at Austin where he later taught studio courses. He also taught at Castle Hill Art Center in Truro, Massachusetts. Moving to San Francisco later that year, Don began photographing people in their bath tubs, having been inspired by medieval sculptures set in niches. Largely self-taught in photography, his work has been widely published in the United States and Europe in publications such as New York Magazine, The Village Voice, and Art Forum. After moving to New York City in 1978, Don became part of the vibrant East Village art scene of the 1970’s and 80’s and continued his bathtub series expanding his subject matter from the original visual artists to the performing artists.
Don’s work has been collected by the Chrysler Museum, The NYNEX Corporate Collection, the Aldrich Museum, The Walter P. Chrysler collection and the museums of the Universities of Texas, Louisiana, Toronto and Bucknell.
Don’s rich life included an appearance in the documentary film “Jackie Curtis” about the New York playwright and performer which debuted in London at the National Film Theatre. He also lived in a Yoga House in London and a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Scotland.
After moving to Newburgh in the mid-1980’s, Don became an active member and volunteer at the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands, a natural outgrowth of his love for the magnificent architecture of that City and his proud ownership of an exquisite 1836 Federal townhouse designed by Thornton McNess Niven. Since 1994, Don’s whimsical but accurate drawings of the houses and other buildings on the Historical Society’s house tours have illustrated the tour booklets and made them treasured keepsakes. Don also graciously opened his home often for Historical Society tours as well as for other non-profit fundraisers. In addition, Don has generously provided artwork to benefit local non-profits including Habitat for Humanity, the Downing Park Planning Committee and many others.
After moving to Newburgh, Don discovered two passions: maintaining and furnishing his historic house and writing. Don was very proud that his house was wired by Thomas A. Edison who stayed there when he came to Newburgh in 1883 to set up one of the earliest public electric generating stations. The First Street Home is part of “Quality Row”, townhouses built by Reverend John Brown of the highest quality materials and using the latest technologies, and designed to attract “quality occupants,” according to the developer.
Don’s articles were published in the Times Herald Record and the Mid-Hudson Times and he delighted in reading them at the Newburgh Free Library, The Wherehouse restaurant, Café 88 Liberté’ and on WWLE, 1170 am. His writing drew on his childhood in Texas, his Newburgh experiences, travel, confronting cancer, and his beloved cats. He published a spoken word CD of his stories.
A memorial service is planned for 2:00pm on Sunday January 13 at Calvary Presbyterian Church at 120 South Street, corner of Grand Street, Newburgh, NY.