Matthew J. Tasley ’82 died on January 2, 2020, in Greenbrae, California
(The following was provided by the MarinArts.org on April 24, 2022)
Art and Mental Illness: Honoring Matt Tasley
Marin native Matt Tasley, a diagnosed schizophrenic and recovering alcoholic, used oil painting for his mental health. Until his schizophrenia diagnosis in 2001, Tasley initially coped with his mental health by self-medicating, using drugs and alcohol. In August of that year, he got clean, quit drinking, and remained sober until his death in 2020 at the age of 59. Friends and colleagues remember Matt Tasley as a kind man, a very talented artist, and a passionate advocate for those experiencing mental illness. Tasley’s longtime friend, Mary O’Mara, MarinLink’s executive director, said. “I’ve collected so many of his paintings. I met him through WildCare, years ago. He’d given up on painting in his journey to get sober. I encouraged him to try art again and took him to buy supplies… He painted our wildlife and donated the canvases for a fundraiser. He kept painting.”
Tasley used art as his therapy. Art therapy is commonly used as a tool for the interaction with subconscious ideas or feelings, and communication in psychotherapy. The act of artmaking can also have a soothing effect when used as a mindfulness practice, which can be a powerful tool for healing.
Celebrating the Power of Healing, through the Arts
Before he died in a tragic accident after a mental health crisis, Tasley found healing and direction through art even with a difficult mental health diagnosis. Tasley’s diagnosis didn’t keep him from giving back to the community. He volunteered both through his work with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and as an art teacher and mental health advocate. He served on the NAMI Marin’s board, volunteered with Sunny Hills Transitional Age Youth programs, and Marin City Community Development Corporation’s Empowerment Clubhouse. In 2014, he received the Pacific Sun’s Heroes of Marin award for Courage
“Three things stand out about Matt. 1) He was completely committed to his art. 2) He never broke his sobriety even during six months of homelessness. 3) Fatherhood—he dearly loved his 3-year-old son. Matt faced many challenges, but he was a great and loyal friend. He stayed connected and touched the lives of hundreds of people,” comments longtime friend O’Mara.
Supporting Art Therapy in Marin
Tasley taught art at the Buckelew Programs. He also often donated paintings to Buckelew’s MarinScapes fundraiser, and became an effective mental health advocate through Buckelew.