We've lost another bright light in Deep Ellum, 31-year old model and artist Summer Amshoff. Summer, apparently at her own hand, died early Friday morning. She was a regular sight at Deep Ellum rock shows, onstage with Wicked Angels, the modeling group she managed, and participating at Scarborough Renaissance Festival and comic conventions. We thought we'd speak to some people who were friends and fans of her work, and if I may, I have my own great memories of Summer Amshoff.
I figured we'd start with Kaia Bellanca Beggs' thoughts on Summer and a few other people who knew her much better than I ever got the chance to.
Summer was a Superhero. She was a performer at her core and wildly creative. She was spontaneous, beautiful and magnetic. She'd make me laugh at myself when I was taking life too seriously, or just make me laugh at her dancing around the house in a plastic yellow helmet and three bras. It always made her happy to help out anyone who needed it, whether human or not, so her house was always kind of an "island of misfit toys" She'd do anything to help her friends. We were roommates when I was going through a huge transition in my life and she glued me back together and never once stopped being there for me. She's a huge piece of me. I don't have words for how much I miss her and want to see her walk through my front door again.
We look at death with such sorrow. And rightfully so. I like to believe that as they who pass find peace they watch over us all. Summer left her mark on the world through her passion, art and ambition. Somewhere, she's playing her keys, shining beautifully for the camera, and teaching a gimpy T-Rex to smile.
I would want people to know that Summer was a goof. She was obviously beautiful, but she would say and do some of the goofiest stuff. She had a great laugh. She was an avid animal lover and would volunteer her time to many of their causes.
-Chris Beasley Schrag/Trees
Summer was a beautiful human being that, even when faced with alienation, was able to remain true to herself. While most of us worry about trivial things, they didn't exist to her. She questioned things with genuine curiosity that people either loved or showed no toleration for. No matter to Summer, as she would remain by your side like a loyal setter, knowing that whatever you took out on her came from some other rooted emotion. She would fulfill her duties when it came to friendship and love, and show you toleration and understanding. We have lost a true ornament in our lives. As a result we are forced to learn from it. We love you, Summer.
-Christopher Smith/The Razorblade Dolls
I saw Summer, and her cohorts in Wicked Angels, dance onstage at Reno's Chop Shop in 2011. Despite being strikingly pretty, Summer and her girls interpreted their dancing-while-the-band-played shtick with higher functioning than what you see onstage with, say, Motley Crue's dancers. There was more going on than just shaking what was sexy. The expression seemed to come from a darker, more artful place.
She seemed like a pretty respectable visionary, so I contacted her for a Q&A for our weekly column "Local Music 'Mericans." The interview is here.
In the weeks that followed, Amshoff became a fascinating new friend. Via text and emails, she engaged me in intelligent, unfiltered and very non-boring conversation. Zillions of messages, back and forth, about everything from exhaustion and art to aviation and animals ... and the social idiosyncrasies of our dysfunctional family of mutual music friends.
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For reasons unknown, the zenith of our friendship ended quickly. We came to only speak occasionally, about whatever random issue afterward, and then I didn't see or hear from Summer for a long time. At Black Flag's show at Trees recently, we passed each other squeezing through a packed crowd. She either didn't see or recognize me, or didn't choose to acknowledge me. For whatever reason, I didn't initiate either.
I'd give anything to rewind to that night, grab her arm and give her a hug. Shoulda could woulda.
An informal gathering to remember Summer Amshoff is planned for tonight (Tuesday), 7 p.m., at Three Links in Deep Ellum. Donations to her family for her funeral expenses can be made here.
And please, if you're thinking about doing the unthinkable, reach out to the Texas Suicide Prevention Hotline first: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).