Tom Runkle began his career as a stained glass craftsman. After enjoying a 30-year career in the craft, Tom’s worsening, chronic back pain prevented him from being able to do what he loved. He was crushed to think that his creative outlet had vanished. Determined to find another way to work with glass, and inspired by an image he had seen in a Chicago restaurant, Tom started experimenting with mirrors using a technique that was easier on his back.
Tom’s other great passion in life was music. The subject matter of his recent work is largely composed of iconic musicians, which would seem natural for an artist living in Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World.
During his time living in the Bay Area Tom had seen music legends such as The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jimmy Hendrix perform in their early days. He also lived in Hawaii for a short period, where he was hired by a promoter to chauffeur visiting artists around the island.
Having had the opportunity to meet some of his musical heroes in person, these experiences undoubtedly became the inspiration for much of his work. It brought Tom a great sense of fulfillment to be able to immortalize his favorite musicians in mosaic mirror portraits, in a body of work he titled “Music to Mirrors”.
Tom passed away on November 18, 2014. Though he has passed, his legacy and his art will continue to live on.
Tom’s works are displayed at Kerbey Lane Cafe, located at 4301 West William Cannon Drive, and at several locations around Austin including Salt & Time, The Continental Club Gallery, Magnolia Cafe, Halcyon, Hyde Park Grill, Austin Java, Thunderbird Coffee, Stella Blue, Old School Bar and Grill, One 2One Bar, Wild About Music, Austin Visitors Center, and Antone’s.
Tom’s son, Ben Runkle, will be organizing a memorial art show in the coming months to celebrate his father’s incredible life and work.
Rest in Peace, Tom. You will be missed.
Photos courtesy of http://tomrunkle.com/