Anup: A Gentle, Talented Soul Passes Away

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In the midst of this pandemic that has upended all of our lives, many folks in Longview and East Texas mourned the passing of an extraordinary man who died too young and touched so many people — from the homeless to the wealthy, the well-connected to the disconnected.

Anup Bandhari died on March 10, just days after he turned 40, and six months after he went into cardiac arrest and suffered an irreversible brain injury. So many lives were touched by this gentle, generous soul during his 20 years in East Texas.

Anup came to America from Nepal in 2000 to study fine art, photography and the culinary arts at Kilgore College, which he discovered online.

“I was looking on the Internet, and Kilgore College was very affordable,” he told me. I met Anup in 2013 while teaching at KC. From time to time, he stopped by the lab where photography instructor O. Rufus Lovett and I both taught. Occasionally, from his phone, he would show me images of his paintings.

By then, Anup had been working on his Healing Art Project at Newgate Mission for three years. A highly prolific painter, he began making portraits of Newgate patrons, using photographs made gratis by longtime Longview News-Journal photographer Les Hassell. He also began giving art classes at Newgate to the patrons.

In a single year, besides his own work, which is primarily large, acrylic abstract renditions, he finished 35 portraits for The Faces of Newgate, a book published in 2018 through the generosity of Anup’s patrons. All proceeds went to Newgate Mission, which feeds anyone who walks in the door, whether the person is homeless or just needs some help. My Beautiful Mystery Companion and I have been blessed to serve there at times over the years. It is always an uplifting experience, indeed an honor to do so.

Anup and I met again in December 2018 at Silver Grizzly Espresso in downtown Longview. He was one of the first persons I interviewed for the @longviewtx150 project that Rufus and I continue to work on for the city’s sesquicentennial. There was never any doubt we would include Anup in our profiles of 150 people from all walks of life. Every time I talked to Anup, it felt like being in the presence of someone who was at peace, whose heart seemed filled with love for other people, especially those less fortunate. He seems to have come by this need to help, to contribute and to love from his late father. As he wrote in the preface to The Faces of Newgate: “My dad was always kind to others, even to strangers. He was always willing to help people in need.”


We met again for coffee in late spring of last year. I asked him to bring me a signed copy of The Faces of Newgate to purchase. I had missed the book signing because of work. He told me, when we met, that he was continuing the art classes at Newgate, which had grown to 15-20 people at the time of his cardiac arrest. “Now, I feel like I belong there. I know most of them, which is very helpful,” he said.

Anup wanted to pick my brain about writing for a long-term project he was thinking about embarking upon. He was still trying to get a handle on how to begin. I assured Anup that he had the skills to do anything he wanted, that writing long pieces is, as the old bromide goes, like how one goes about eating an elephant: One bite at a time.

Anup spent half his life in East Texas, creating art, teaching others to paint, helping those less fortunate, cooking wonderful meals and living modestly. Those of us privileged enough to have known him will always treasure being a part of his life, to be considered his friend. Because if you knew Anup, he became your friend.

Farewell to one of the most giving, kindest and talented people I have met in my nearly 65 spins around the sun. Rest easy, Anup, and God Bless.

(Photos by O. Rufus Lovett)

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