The art of giving

Robert and Shirley Larsen were bitten by the art-collecting bug nearly 50 years ago, and for a long time they had many places to put their treasures: two or three homes and four or five offices at any given time.

But as the collection grew, and Robert Larsen cut back on his work - don't ever say retired - they just couldn't keep it all. At least not in places where they would see and appreciate it. So they began giving it away, and Community Hospital has been one of the lucky recipients of many of the couple's paintings.

"If we're not hanging them and they're stored, it's foolish not to have other people enjoy them," says Robert Larsen.

Some have found their way to the walls of Community Hospital, and Larsen has been among the many patients who have been able to take them in.

"I was in the hospital for a pacemaker, and just down the hall from my room was a beautiful painting by Jack Laycox; there it was, a painting we had given," he says. "It's nice to walk through the halls of Community Hospital and see old friends."

That particular "old friend" is "Tall Silhouettes," an oil painting of a stand of Monterey Cypress trees perched above the bay.

"It was painted especially for Shirley and hung in the dining room of our home in Lafayette," Larsen says.

Some of Larsen's own painting was inspired by Laycox, one of his favorite artists.

The Larsens "semi-retired" to Pebble Beach just over a decade ago, following Robert Larsen's long career as a certified public accountant and financial planner in the Bay Area. Over the years they have given away art, money, even horses (they used to breed Arabians). They're still donating pieces of their collection, though it's not always easy.

"I've got a few," Larsen says, "that I just don't want to part with."