Late housepainting artist and avid outdoorsman praised for his contributions to the community.
Like many of the victorian houses in Penn Yan, the Best Western Vineyard Inn and Suites bears a distinctive color scheme, and even architectural and landscape elements that were conceived by one man, the late Charlie Spacek.
Inspired by the “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco, Spacek expanded his house painting business and reputation by choosing a somewhat more sedate palette of colors, but with the same intent — to highlight the rich architectural details of houses in the Penn Yan area that had too long been hidden under layers of white paint that covered them in the decades after the more ornamental tastes of the 19th century had faded.
Brian Zerges, owner of the Best Western, admired Charlie’s work and his drive to improve the overall appearance of his home town. So naturally, Zerges consulted with Spacek as he was planning to build the hotel, and that relationship became a stronger and deeper friendship rather than just a business deal.
Spacek was remembered by Zerges Saturday, Dec. 9 when he invited Charlie’s family and friends to a special ceremony to unveil a bronze plaque installed on the pergola Charlie designed for the front of the hotel. Spacek’s influence, seen on almost every block in Penn Yan, is especially strong on the corner of Lake and Brown Streets. Starting with the house he grew up in on the corner, Charlie also chose the colors for the hotel and the houses beyond, all in a progressive theme of color coordination and architectural display.
“He was truly an artist,” says Zerges. “There are 12 colors on the hotel, 16 colors on one house, and 12 on the others — all different. That’s over 50 colors! And they work together beautifully.”
Longtime friend and business associate, Skip Banach of Pinckney Paint and Decorating (formerly McGoverns) called Charlie “a perfectionist who would never just paint a house white.” Banach’s story was followed by others who spoke of the ribbing Charlie would get from people passing his jobs. Other stories followed, focusing on his hard work and his desire to please people and help them see the happiness in life.
Part of that outreach included his communicating his love of outdoor sports to young people by taking them hunting and fishing, and writing about their accomplishments in The Chronicle-Express and for the radio. Brian Zerges’ father, Rolf, related how Spacek took his great neice out for her first fishing experience and how much it meant to her.
In light of Charlie’s love of the outdoors, Brian Zerges also made a $500 donation to the Yates County Sportman’s Association, presented to Scott Backer, who says they are developing a 3-D archery target range in Charlie’s memory.
Much was also made of how much Charlie adored his wife, Barb. She and their son, Tim, who recently returned to the area with his wife and children, thanked Zerges and everyone gathered for the honor done to the man they loved so much. “Thank you for keeping his memory alive,” Barb said with a genuine smile of happiness.