Goodbye, good friends

Bryan Stevens, the author of this blog and my beloved father, died suddenly on Sunday, March 15th of complications of kidney cancer. I’m glad to say that the he passed comfortably and quickly, surrounded by his family. He treasured this community very much, and was proud of the conversations that took place here. Thank you for sharing his enthusiasm and appreciation of Mexican history and culture.

His mask collecting influenced our family life in many ways. A few examples are below…

A collage of a jaguar mask made by my son for his grandfather.

A drawing of many masks in our house done by one of my brothers as a present for our father.

And, my favorite: my father, circa 1990, giving a talk on masks to a local women’s club, with one of my brothers and a friend assisting. You can see the great merriment on his face–my father at his best.


Peace be with all of you.

-Julia Stevens

8 comments on “Goodbye, good friends

  1. my deepest sympathy for your loss. I’ve been following Bryan’s site for a number of years and could never wait to see what would be on his next post. He taught me a lot of what I know about my own mask collection. He always provided hard to find anthropological support and valuable video links. I believe he truly advanced our understanding and the importance of Mexican dance masks. It was clear that Bryan had immense respect for indigenous peoples and their cultures.
    I wrote him a few months ago when he first announced that he had finished posting his collection. I wanted him to know how much I had enjoyed his blog. He wrote me back right away asking that I provide photos of some of my collection for him to share. Although I never got around to sending him anything, he found a way to continue to add interesting items. Clearly he couldn’t leave it alone. He must have really loved it very much.

    • Hello Julia,
      When I was still living in Mexico, Bryan made several visits to our home in San Miguel. We went on several mask hunting excursions together. We were in constant communication over the years. He was a walking encyclopedia of Mexican ceremonial masks and their carvers. Mexican mask collectors will miss your brilliant father. I had a question for him and was first looking on his blog to find the answer before contacting him. I was saddened to hear of his passing. He will not be forgotten. My wife, Mercedes, and I send our condolences to your family.
      Vernon Kostohryz

  2. I’m very sad to read this new 🙁
    I found this site like a year ago and inmediatly fell in love with the amazing work of your father. Many times I wanted to write something in this site, because there’s a lot of beautiful material and I think I lost my chance to talk with him. I study the Moors and Christians dances and found many interesting information. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share mi admiration for your lost, I hope you will find solace in know that your fathers work crossed borders and generations and, even when I dind’t have the chance of met him, I can’t avoid the feeling that I have lost a very good friend.
    My condolences to you and your family,

    Ivan Casasola

  3. A very bad new, I learn today only through a post on “Masks of the World” website, by Bob Ibold.

    I am collector of Guatemalan masks and deeply appreciated the quality and seriousness of this website. Unfortunately, I did not have the occasion to meet him, but obviously his death is a major loss for the knowledge of mesoamerican traditional masks and dances.

    My very best condolences to his family and friends.

    Jean Van de Stadt

  4. So sorry to hear of the passing of your father. I only had a brief correspondence with him regarding a mask I acquired long ago, but followed his blog for several years and appreciated his immense knowledge and love of Mexican masks. Was shocked when I saw the notice on Masks of the Word site.

    Please accept my sincere condolences

  5. I just posted something to your Dad’s website, which I found fascinating, not realizing that he was gone. My sincere sympathy to you and your family. Leaving the website up seems like a fitting memorial.

  6. So sorry for your loss and our loss of a man so knowledgeable and dedicated to sharing his knowledge. I have his first book, and was wondering if someone will be finishing his second book. He is a co-author on the third book who presumably can bring that one to press. What a pity that he left when he had so much that he was looking forward to doing. Blessings to his loved ones!

  7. Hello Julia,

    I had not been visiting this site for quite a while, so I’m shocked and deeply sorrow to learn that your father has passed on.

    My own Mexican mask collection has been closed for a few years due to lack of display space. While I immensely enjoy what I have, my own studies also came to a halt when I stopped buying, so Bryan and me had not been in contact for quite some time.

    Pretty much from Day One, your father has been INCREDIBLY helpful and I feel deeply honored that he devoted so much of his time to discuss my findings and possible purchases. He also corrected my frequent errors. Most important perhaps, he taught me how to tell the good from the bad, and the excellent from the mediocre. His support was invaluable, and with his help, I was able to build a personal collection that should make any Folk Art museum proud. Bryan once called me a ‘shining star’ among the readers of his blog and I will always take pride in that statement. I never had a better teacher in my life. He will be deeply missed.

    My best wishes,

    Helmut Hamm

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