Vernon Pratt: 1940-2000 | Front Porch | Indy Week
Pin It

Vernon Pratt: 1940-2000 

Vernon Pratt went out riding on Dec. 14, five days after his 59th birthday, on a country road near the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, an artists' retreat where he'd been working on his painting. He was found by the roadside, badly injured and unconscious. Was Pratt hit by a car or did his tire twist off the edge of the pavement, sending him tumbling? We'll never know, because on Feb. 27, he died without regaining consciousness.

Pratt left a wife and children at home, as well as grown children from his first marriage, but he also left a large community in which he'd been an important fixture for decades. A professor of the practice of art in the Duke University Department of Art and Art History, he taught design and painting to hundreds of students. He was on leave from Duke at the time of his accident. Pratt was also active in the wider community, the Durham Arts Council and the Durham Art Guild. His large studio in downtown Durham held his collection of works by other artists and provided space for confabs with plenty of music.

Pratt will be remembered for his generosity to students and other artists and for his artwork, especially perhaps for the flawed but grandly conceived Education Wall (an Artworks in State Buildings project on the exterior of the Education Building in Raleigh). He'll also be remembered for his passionate love of jazz. The first time I ever saw him, he was playing his saxophone at the old Salaam Center, a club on Durham's West Chapel Hill Street where mixed-race crowds listened to music and ate Indian food in the early '80s. He adored John Coltrane, and he loved to play that sax. If there is justice in the afterlife, Pratt is wailing on a golden saxophone right now.

Donations in his honor may be made to the Emerging Artists Program of the Durham Arts Council, Attention: Margaret DeMott, 120 Morris St., Durham, NC 27701.

Latest in Front Porch

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Front Porch

  • One vote

    • Nov 12, 2014
  • Box of one

    Was I paying to be helped or to feel important, a bona fide expert on only myself?
    • Sep 24, 2014
  • The Old South (Hills)

    The Old South (Hills)

    • Sep 17, 2014
  • More »


Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Nobody will be surprised to learn that Hocutt never went to Nam. He was in the Navy but washed out …

by Jefflenter on Raleigh bad boy no more (Front Porch)

I see his concern. Yes, it was a well written story and showed his caring side for sure. But not …

by Linda Bates Terrell on Motorcycle men (Front Porch)

Follow-up to my "nervous mom" comment. The last coupe of weeks we have been in many situations with individuals that …

by paulapowers on Governor's School blues (Front Porch)

Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Most Read

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation