For a good number of his 84 years, Warren Edminster has stowed a chair in the back of his car.
As he journeys through life, armed with his chair and a sketchpad, this Tucson architect and artist captures the beauty he finds along the way – perhaps in a centuries-old adobe mission, or purple evening shadows kissing a mountain range.
He paints the things that speak to his soul, creating a collection of more than 300 sketches, water colors and oils over the past 60 years.
Now, as he and his wife, Beverley, have made the decision to simplify life, Warren is placing much of his lifetime collection of work up for sale.
Each sketch holds a memory of a beautiful moment in time. Many were captured as Warren explored the missions of Mexico, California and Arizona. Others are made as he and Bev, who have been married for 12 years, travel the world together.
“You turn around and there are always 50 things you’d like to paint,” Warren said.
Now, both in their 80s, the Edminsters have decided to downsize.
They put their 2,600-square-foot Foothills home on the market and fell in love with the Pueblo Catalina neighborhood, southwest of Campbell Avenue and Skyline Boulevard.
There, they found a bright and airy 1,750-square-foot town home — unusual for the Foothills — where Warren keeps his studio and Bev plays her grand piano and reads, their two pups, Rudy and Patches, always nearby.
With downsizing their home came downsizing Warren’s lifetime collection of art. He’s putting it out in the world, hoping to sell much of it at an art sale from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. today at their home that is for sale, 1810 E. Camino Cresta. The works range from $30 to $300.
“I want to get the art out there, and sell as much as I can,” said Warren, who was trained in art at the University of Illinois, where he graduated in 1960. His training led to his ability to render a likeness of what an architectural project would look like when completed, and left him fascinated with sketching architecture.
After graduating, “I knew I didn’t want to live in the flatlands my entire life,” said Warren, who grew up in Wyanet, Illinois, a town of 800 people.
He “shotgunned” résumés from Dallas to Denver and San Francisco to San Diego, and the best offer came from a Tucson architecture firm that closed decades ago.
Over the years, and while at a couple of firms and later in single practice, he took part in designing Redondo Towers, Pima Community College West Campus, the Tucson City Hall tower, Marana High School and other landmark buildings in Tucson and Nogales.
When he arrived to Tucson in 1960, Warren was drawn to the history, and studied missions in Sonora. He sketched designs for annual Christmas cards, with a different mission or religious structure each year. He sent cards to 300 friends, family members and clients, a tradition he continues today.
Every place he and Bev travel — and they have been all over the world — Warren brings his sketch pad and sometimes his water colors. As he works, Bev relaxes with a book. They recently returned from their annual two-week journey to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, and Warren brought back a handful of new sketches.
The Edminsters are encouraging their blended family to keep whatever they like of the collection, and much of the rest is for sale.
“There are only a very few things that we are really covetous of,” Warren said. “Every piece has a memory.”
The Edminsters are setting about the task of making new memories in their smaller home. They spotted the house around Christmas, moved in March and recently completed a small expansion, adding a kitchen pantry and converting a one-car carport to a two-car garage.
Warren’s art covers many of the walls.
The Edminsters traded in their acre with a pool and large garden for two small patios, lush with potted plants, bougainvillea, palms and other greenery, both perfect spots for a morning cup of coffee.
“With a big house you feel a bit of a slave to it,” said Bev, a retired educator and administrator with Tucson Unified School District who became a deacon at St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church in 2000.
“There is always something that needs doing or fixing.”
Bev volunteers by helping low-income children with homework and teaching them piano at St. Philip’s afterschool music program. Twenty percent of proceeds from the art sale will be donated to the program.
The Edminsters are happy they found a smaller, low-maintenance home without leaving the Foothills. He had lived in the area since 1961, and she since the 1970s.
“I just walked into this house and thought, ‘This is my home,’” Bev said. “It just felt right. You have to live life doing what you want to do, and not just taking care of your house.”