Friends celebrate Osborn’s life |

Friends celebrate Osborn’s life

Dan BurkhartCatharine Bramkamp looks at an altar created by David Osborn and Charles Woods. Bramkamp grow up in Nevada City. Her parents owned a business next to Osborn's.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

More than 100 people gathered Sunday at Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City to honor the late David S. Osborn, a longtime art activist who worked to preserve historic Nevada City.

Osborn, who died Feb. 2 at the age of 70, did not like memorials, so the gathering was an occasion to celebrate his life, friends said.

Osborn, along with partner Charles Woods, purchased and restored Miners Foundry in the 1970s, where they ran the annual Teddy Bear Convention.

Over the years, they encouraged the development of theater, music and other art forms by organizing countless concerts and art shows. They also co-founded KVMR, the community radio station.

Woods and Osborn, who met in graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley and first worked as graphic designers in San Francisco, are widely credited for helping to save Nevada City’s historic buildings after moving here from San Francisco in 1957.

“I think their contribution was recognizing the beauty of Nevada City as a Gold Rush community,” said former Mayor Paul Matson, a friend who helped organize Sunday’s event.

“I think David and Charles were instrumental in establishing Nevada City’s claim to fame,” he added.

Osborn and Woods co-founded the American Victorian Museum, which they ran at Miners Foundry until the building was sold in 1989.

The American Victorian Museum, which began in a restored building on Broad Street in 1972 and is now at the corner of Spring and South Pine streets, features thousands of teddy bears.

“You couldn’t ask for more creative guys,” said Barry Schoenborn, who worked with Osborn and Woods on the annual Teddy Bear Convention. They were a joy to work with, he said.

Eric Tomb, who is making a one-hour documentary on Osborn and Woods, remembered the concerts at Miners Foundry. “This place was busy all the time,” he said. “It was nonstop.”

Howard Wahlstrom, a painter based in Utah who worked for Osborn and Woods for 15 years in San Francisco and Nevada City, said they worked all the time. But Osborn and Woods liked to have fun, too, he added.

“They were very gracious people,” he said.

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