Last month, we ran a little contest to see which image we would use for the postcard announcing our Art of a Community show which just opened. Bill Rhodes submitted an image of colorful rectangles apparently moving up, down, back and forth. I chose that one for the card because I could interpret the little rectangles as individuals whose “color” and “movement” together made up a vibrant picture of community. Bill told me that the painting, Proposal for an EU Flag, was based on an aerial photograph of brightly colored Fiats going this way and that in an Italian City. “If that doesn’t represent community”, Bill told me, “I don’t know what does”.
That was the last time I talked to Bill.
Bill died at home, of a heart attack on January 3. He left two sons, Dylan and Holland, and a house full of art work. Bill was born in West Virginia. His family moved to Southern California during WWII to be with Bill’s dad who was in the military. He attended Fullerton Junior College and then Fullerton State University where he earned a BA. He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. He spent the last 25 years or so in the Bay Area. He lived from 1943 to 2012.
We just finished installing the Art of a Community show. Bill did not help with the installation, as he always did, and will not be docenting on Sundays, as he often did. We will miss his quirky humor and significant insights into the art in our gallery and in the world. In case you don't remember him, he's the guy with long hair, usually a baseball cap and a little bump on his head. In addition to being a dedicated volunteer for Arts Benicia, he was a talented and thoughtful artist who donated a major piece for the auction last year. He had work in the Gems show, and in many of our group shows.
We lost one of our own.
We are going to hold a wake for Bill. This will be an informal get-together of Bill’s friends, family, fellow Arts Benicia artists and volunteers, and anyone who cares about Bill or his work. We can swap stories, share wine and remember Bill in the Gallery, which was an important part of his life. This will be on Friday, February 3, from 7-10. We’ll send out a reminder email before the event.
Now I have a pile of business cards on my desk that I pulled from our public information table and don’t know what to do with. They read: “Paintings of no significance, W.B. Rhodes, http://www.spacewastedright.com.”
Each one has a tiny original painting on it.