“This place is my last adventure.”
Arthur Bacon drives to the Gipson Center twice a week to shoot pool and shoot the bull with his friends. He knows something about adventure.
Born to a Pulitzer-prize winning Father and professional cellist Mother, Arthur does not stay in one place for long. Spartanburg, South Carolina, turned into Syracuse, NY, then boarding school in Pennsylvania, before making the wrestling team at Syracuse University. Wrestling came easy, but not the discipline required at college, and Arthur soon flunked out and headed west to San Francisco, to put those lean muscles to work hanging sheet rock. He was dreaming of making enough to tramp through Europe, when a friend convinced him that the real adventure was in South America.
Arthur built up a cabin on the back of a 2.5 ton truck, which got him to Panama. From there he hitchhiked to Chile, Buenos Aires and Rio, then caught a ship to Spain to meet a pretty girl in Switzerland. Later, he and a friend posed as Olympic athletes at the games in Mexico City in 1968 to get into events for free. He made his 2nd wrestling team, this time at Denver University, where he graduated with a BA in History. He’s studied photography under Ansel Adams, earned an MFA, won a Masters Judo Championship in Florida, and won another championship – this time in an amateur division of table tennis – in California. He’s rafted the Escalante River solo and bagged two first ascents in Alaska: on Caliban and Xanadu, both challenging technical climbs. And, in 1988, with the scion of Stroh’s Brewing Company, Arthur crossed one of the most dangerous stretches of jungle in the world in 10 days: the Darien Gap, which separates Panama from Columbia. (Photo above, left.)
Along the way Arthur worked as a newspaper carrier; a roughneck in the oil fields of Southern Utah; a park ranger; a bicycle messenger; a wrestling coach; a photography professor; a gallery director; a writer; a director; and a cinematographer. He’s worked for the US Census, an Apache Indian Reservation in New Mexico, REI, and over a dozen schools and universities. At his heart – like his Father, Mother, and Grandfather -- Arthur is a teacher, helping students see the world with a new lens.
There is more than a tinge of sadness in Arthur’s recollections. When he was young, his Mom left to work as a concert cellist in Europe. “I missed out on learning about real love from my mother, because….she left at a crucial time. I’ve been selfish sometimes, unable to appreciate the love that people have had for me.” For all that he has done and seen – the long list of photography exhibitions, the stories of bushwhacking, vagabonding, and carousing through half the world – he has left people behind. “There are people who have a total understanding of love, that I never have really had.”
Arthur had two daughters: one died of Covid last year, and his younger daughter is an aerial artist in New York. He lives with his girlfriend, the painter Aitana de la Jara, and he still writes and practices photography. He found the Carl Gipson Center about six years ago when looking to improve his table tennis skills, and met Howard Grossman. “Howard is a tireless and devoted teacher.” Howard took time to coach Arthur, as he does with all new players at Gipson. And, Arthur kept coming back.
“The Carl Gipson Center is the best kept secret in Snohomish County. And, it’s helped so many people.” To shoot pool with Arthur and hear some of his stories, visit the Center on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.
“It’s the best deal in town.”