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Science Fiction Illustrator Finds Home

7/20/2015

George Barr displays one of his paintings that illustrated the cover of the science fiction novel "Countersolar!"

George Barr was 13 when he picked up a science fiction magazine for the first time.

“It was kind of like finding my home,” says Barr. Now 78, an entry on the artist can be found in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

Barr’s art, often marked by a distinctive watercolor-over-ballpoint pen technique, illustrated science fiction magazines for decades, including the covers of “Amazing Stories,” “Fantastic Stories” and “If.” Barr also brought books to life through his work with publishers like DAW Books and Ace Books.

Prior to compiling this impressive resume, Barr did a great deal of free work for “fanzines,” non-professional publications popular in the science fiction world. Not only did it help build his portfolio, but it was a way to get his illustrations out, he says. The work even earned him a Hugo Award for best fan artist at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1968.

Barr earned these achievements with only one formal art course under his belt. Though he says he learned a lot about color, harmony and composition, the emphasis on commercial art did not play toward his interests. The freedom of the fantasy genre spoke to him most, he says.

“There was absolutely nothing you could imagine that could not occur,” says Barr of the genre. “You can conceivably be drawing anything that ever existed or might.”

Today, he says he finds freedom in another form — his community.

Barr moved to Vineyard Village, which is managed by ABHOW’s affordable housing subsidiary, Beacon Communities, six years ago when the death of a roommate left him unable to pay his rent. He calls the Livermore, California, community a “lifesaver.”

“It was like a blessing from heaven,” he says. “I don’t know what I would have done if that hadn’t opened up.”
Barr enjoys the convenience and camaraderie at Vineyard Village, and he says the team members are “simply marvelous.”

It took some time for Dianamaria Baciarelli, Vineyard Village’s service coordinator, to get to know Barr due to his quiet and unassuming nature, she says. But once she did, she was blown away.

“I was totally in awe of his accomplishments and his outlook on life,” says Baciarelli. “George is a reminder to all of us to take the time to get to know and always celebrate the seniors in our lives.”

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