Mourning & Celebration

Tornado Series: Stephen says…
acrylic on canvas, 36” W x 18” H x 2” D, 2022

From an ongoing body of work exploring supernatural icons and themes of nature’s revenge. Stephen says… is a tribute to Master Artist Stephen Gyermek (1930 – 2016), who while in the throes of Parkinson’s disease suggested that I combine the essence of Dutch landscape, the tonal qualities of Giorgio Morandi (1890 – 1964), with the oddities of my prophetic tornados. He directed, “William, take the gray and suffering of Europe and make it beautiful in California.”

The result is a roaring, rope tornado depicted upon a re-visioning of View of Naardeen, 1647, by Jacob Isaakzoon van Ruisdael (1629 – 1682). While just starting to research images for this painting, Stephen died in 2016. At the time, Stephen was experiencing intense and vivid hallucinations. Seeing him suffer and then ultimately grieving the loss of my friend prolonged my understanding of his clarity. Only once I began preparatory drawings and tonal studies, it became so obvious. Like all things Stephen, his ideas were visionary, beautiful and powerful.

I’m so fortunate to have had such amazing mentor’s like Stephen, and at a residency at Atlantic Center for the Arts – Guillermo Gómez- Peña, Roberto Sifuentes & Sara Shelton Mann (Mexterminator 2 Residency, November 1-21, 1998). With that, it seemed to fitting to debut this celebratory, new work in INFOBAHN 2023, the inaugural Alumni Associate Artist Exhibition, from February 11 to May 6, 2023.

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