Bart Brooks aka Barton Brooks, Bartholomew Brooks, Bart Brookenstein, Poppi, Bartimus Maximus, Barty Beanski, Baruch… of Philadelphia.

Artist. Theologian. Punster. Religious scholar. Thread in the fabric of Center City, Rittenhouse Square, and West Philly. Patron of La Colombe and assorted other establishments. Conversationalist. Reader and reciter of scripture. Quoter of lines from songs and poems. Smoker of cigarettes and drinker of coffee. Philanthropist – donator of beauty, laughter, and spirit. Much loving, much beloved, and sometimes curmudgeonly son, brother, in-law, uncle, boyfriend, neighbor, friend, witness, guide. Shoulder-er of burdens:  As Doris A. wrote, “Bart … led a heroic life – despite and amid the internal chaos.”  Amen, brother.

Beginning November 29th, there will be a short informal show displaying Bart’s brother Joshua Brooks’ collection. Below are some of these paintings.

On January 26th, we will put together a formal show as well as a remembrance event. If you have a piece by Bart and would like to contribute to this show please email or call the main office at 215-426-2011.

If you do have a piece by Bart, it would be appreciated if you could also contact Joshua Brooks to help him collect images of Bart’s work to create an archive. You can email him at or call him at 215-910-2985.

Click here to see more of Bart’s work.


  1. The Brooks family want to thank all the folks at La Colombe for creating a space (Bart’s “indoor studio”) where Bart was welcomed to create art and community. We’d imagine that there were times when that wasn’t necessarily easy.

    We also want to express thanks (to Renee and Esen in particular) for the warmth they’ve extended to Bart’s immediate family. These past few weeks it has become apparent to us that La Colombe is not merely a cafe where people come to buy coffee, but also a cafe that houses a community and an extended family, and a place where gentleness and compassion are well-brewed, and warmly and generously shared.

  2. I lived on Rittenhouse Square for nearly 20 years before moving back to the Main Line. And I am not exageratig when I say that I have purchased 50 paintings or more from Bart … most dated and signed … because of my thorough admiration of his deeply spiritual and inspirational art.

    And as a rightful testimony, I not only have his haunting, ecumenical allegories hanging throughout my home, I also rest my eyes upon my favorite of his paintings during most of my waking hours, at my office as well.

    I’m saddened and stunned to hear of his passinng and I offer his family my deepest empathy, having lost loved ones as well,

    Ron O’Neal

  3. Thank you for your post. I have moved out of Center City a while ago so lost track of Bart. Fond memories of him from Tenth and the Rittenhouse Square area. Hope to be there on January 26.
    Diana Frazier

  4. Bart was a friend from our days living in Hazleton, Pa. I lost touch with him before 1961. I am both saddened and dismayed that I might have picked up where we left off when we are all pals playing in John Aach’s garden.

    Belated condolences to Josh and Dana whom I also recall fondly.

    Michael Apichella
    Cambridge, UK

  5. My name is Bob Covelli. I went to Central High with Barton a while ago. In Fairmount Park one bright afternoon, scrambling hither and yon, we heard a kindly young man assure us that we couldn’t make it up a certain rock face without proper equipment. The rock was high and pretty flat. We were in sneakers or work boots. We looked at each other, smiled and went straight up into sunshine and dubious glory, like two silly goats, which we were. I’m happy that so many people remember Barton as fondly as I do. To his family I send my love. He was a special guy, and I’m sorry that you’ve lost him–except his spirit, yes?

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