From the Body Shop to the Art Gallery: The Story of C.R. Bob Bryant

From the Body Shop to the Art Gallery: The Story of C.R. Bob Bryant

C.R. (Bob) Bryant is a former combat medic for the U.S. Air Force, a collision repair lifer with a 60-year track record, and a painter with works that have appeared in premier galleries and sell for as much as $20,000.

Bryant and his business partner, Jim Jordan, co-own a business together that has developed a new product, set to release this fall.

Although Bryant is not yet ready to announce the product, he can say that it’s 100 percent American made, owned by U.S. Veterans and half the price of his competition’s product.

“The product’s concept was based on the Colt .45 caliber sidearm,” he said. “Our system has seven components compared to the 40 that our competition uses and is built primarily off-shore. Like the .45, our system is simple, highly reliable and cost-effective. We’re excited to release the news and bring an important new product to market before the end of the year.”

Leading in the marketplace and taking ground in business has allowed Bryant to remain steadfast and creative; however, art has been a way in which he is able to express himself and see the world more clearly.

Bryant created his first painting at age five in his hometown of Central Florida. He worked with traditional oils on linens and used techniques of the old masters. Over the years, Bryant has refined the rare and unusual technique of painting on copper used by early Dutch and Flemish painters and revered as the perfect ground for oils, he said.

Known for his maritime images, Bryant’s paintings of sailing ships are popular throughout North America. Relocating to the Pacific Northwest more than thirty years ago, he began focusing on preserving the rich marine history of Puget Sound without ever losing his passion for painting classic sailing yachts. In Europe his paintings are predominately commissioned by patrons and yacht owners. His paintings are included in the permanent collections of the United States Coast Guard, maritime museums, international corporations and numerous classic yacht owners and patrons throughout Europe, Asia, the West Indies and the Americas.

A dedicated artist, Bryant has made his pursuit of artistic excellence a priority.

“My understanding and appreciation of visual arts have been enriched while living abroad and devoting considerable time in the world’s great art museums,” Bryant said. “By living and painting in the footsteps of the old masters, I have chosen not to live too far away from the sea, always preferring to live on or near the ocean.”

In 1997, Bryant survived a near-fatal accident when he fell 30 feet while power washing his roof near Seattle. The incident changed his life, because shortly thereafter he decided to paint professionally and market his work by founding Emerald Island Studios during a long and arduous rehabilitation period.

"Painting allowed me to focus and develop the mental toughness to come back physically,” he said. “Many of the 40-plus paintings I did during that year ended up in the trash, but a few were worth the effort. I've kept them to remind myself that anything is possible even in the most difficult of situations.”

Bryant produces a number of paintings each year for donation to causes supporting the arts, marine heritage and historical conservation. In the U.S., his original oil paintings and limited-edition reproductions are represented by Mystic Seaport, America's Museum of the Sea, as a core artist and selected galleries worldwide.

In 2019, Bryant was accepted into the Copley Society of Art in Boston. He described it as a milestone event in his long and wonderful career in art. He also discovered that Pelham Lyles, a cousin and the director of the Fairfield County Museum in Winnsboro, SC, confirmed Bryant’s direct family link to John Singleton Copley.

With a move to Maine in August 2018, Bryant acquired new representation by signing on with Jean Briggs at the Mast Cove Gallery in Kennebunkport, ME.

“It is a lively place, in a quiet sort of way, and certainly an improvement over the days we have spent living in cities like Los Angeles, Miami and London,” said Bryant. “With the move to New England, I am occupied full-time with a company that is poised for a national product launch and I have many new subjects to paint.”

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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