I first met Bob Thompson in Provincetown 1958. I had a friend who opened a restaurant . She invited Bob and I to show work in it. It was a small place hence small work. I remember his work clearly. It was very abstract. Bold orange bars with deep almost brown reds separated with deep yellow bars. It stuck in my mind. I cannot recall my own work.
It was a beginning for both of us. We both went on to show at the Sun gallery in Provincetown. We were both involved with the incorporation of the figure into a more abstract field of painting. Bob had had the good fortune to come from a very good family that sent him first to art school the on to study medicine. He dropped out of medicine and back to art. He went to Europe after a successful show at Martha Jackson gallery. My wife and I went to Italy the following year. Finding Italy too expensive we left for Spain ending up in Ibiza. not knowing Bob was there. Using the same watering hole we ran into each other. He always had a rakish way of dressing no matter how poor. He was a real gentleman. One night drunk out of his mind he berated me about something. Next morning he came by to apologize. One time in New York he came by the studio and borrowed a $100. I thought I would never see it again. But he came by the following week and paid me back.
He left Ibiza. He left half a dozen large works in a farm house he had rented about a mile from the farm house I had rented. I rolled them up and bought them back with my work. He was very grateful and gave me a painting. These small works are gifts he gave me over the years. Once he gave me a small book of drawings. So, I share with you the work I have, of one of America’s finest artists.
There are mysteries in this world that are hard to explain. Art is the best formula for this. When starting a painting I have no idea what is going to happen. As shapes and forms begin to materialize they trigger memories of, places, happenings perhaps long forgotten but stored and matured like a fine wine in our subconscious. Slowly a picture forms from the hidden mysteries in our mind that would lay buried and lost forever if not for art.
Looks like Bob Henry. He does some dazzling drawings, he is a master of the ink. He has been posting some on face book lately. His wife, the late great Salina Triff in her last month sat drawing endlessly. She was surrounded by them and sharpie pens. Last time I saw Bob we went through them and he gave me one.
I lived in Ibiza Spain for almost two years. It is a beautiful island with an ancient history. I had a good friend who lived there at the same time, Bob Thompson. He was a great painter I felt it a privileged to know him. In the end we both rented farm houses in the country. It was a glorious place and I learned so much but very little Spanish.
Returning to NY City was a bit of a shock. From the tranquility of Ibiza to the noise and turmoil of city life. I am a Cockney, born in Shoreditch London and grew up in a city. But the transition from Ibiza to NY City was like from heaven to hell. I had a job interior painting in the Bronx and had to travel by subway to nd from. I felt at one time on these trips I was coming apart or going bonkers. My wife and I had had a child in Ibiza and were now living in a walk up apartment on the lower Eastside. We were robbed the first night. Finally we found a loft, 25 x 100 Ft. on Pitt St and my feeling of coming apart subsided.
Looking back at some old photographs I found a group picture of when I was in school in 1946-47. About 34 kids in all. I remember them all for their peculiarities. One. top left, tall thin and very esthetic. She came across to me then as a poet. I don’t recall her name, I believe it was Norma or Nora.
What bothers me, is that in England at that time , we were released from school at the tender age of fourteen. What does a fourteen year old know. What was worse was I had gone to seven schools due to the war and being twice evacuated and once put in Dr. Bernado’s home due to mother being sick with pleurisy and father in the army. In 1940 we, I had a brother and two sisters, were in the home. My mother was in Hove convalescing. One day we were called into the hall of the home and informed that France had surrendered. The hair on the nape of my neck stood up. I was eight, I knew there was something wrong.
We were all given hair cuts and new short pants suits and tags with name and information. We were being shipped to Canada, evacuation. Fortunately my Mom would not sign the papers. s he had a true woman’s intuition. The boat we would have been on was sunk off the coast of Ireland by a sub. To be continued.
We were all united back in the flats. We had been in Willow house on the top floor. Now we were in Craven house on the ground floor, never liked the name. It was a long walk to the air raid shelters, horrible place. Trucks came and tested our gas masks. We had to don masks and walk through a room full of gas. We were instructed to pull our masks off and take a whiff. Choking we put our masks on pronto.
!941. We were evacuate to Ayrshire Scotland. I had experienced four schools. Lady Weir not being able to retain a chauffer gave his apartment over to the evacuation committee. So we went from the grim Craven house, the black out, the blitz, the nights in shelters that smelled of urine to the bliss of a country estate. All I recall on our trip from London was a dark dreary train ride, with cold cups of tea , sandwiches with stale cheese, and countless stops, to allow military trains to speed by with ominous looking military equipment. I do not recall the how we got from Ayr station to our new abode. Later my elder sister told me Lady Weir picked us up in a Rolls Royce. Wish I could remember that part. Waking the next morning to the cheery Scottish voice of Mrs. Rutherford wanting to know if I wanted a piece. Piece meaning a slice of bread and jam. It was a bright sunny morning. It was like the scene in “The Wizard of Oz” when Judy Garland opens the door and the movie goes from black and white to colour. More later. Time for a painting..
In Scotland they use the strap not the cane. One day the bell rang while playing marballs . On the bell one freezes, second bell one runs and lines up. Then one marches past the master showing hands back and front. I licked my hand to clean them to no avail. Mr. Macintosh pulled me out of line by the ear. I was the only one. We marched into class. Big room with a sliding divider for two classes. All seated he marched me to the front of the class went to his cabinet and selected a belt. He ordered me t put my hand out. I did. The strap came whistling down. I withdrew my hand and he hit his leg. He was furious. Taking my arm under his he held out my hand and we danced around. Margie melder sister sat in the next class. Between my class and hers there was an audience of about seventy kids. She could stand it no more, leaping out of her seat she jumped on his back. The three of us waltzed around. Finally he gave up. I was sent to wash my hands. He was a sadistic bastard and was out to punish a Sassenach.
Late 1943 the war was winding down a bit, there had not been nightly raids like the Blitz. Dad was released from the army after a bout of jaundice. We left Scotland, back to grimy London. Dad was back on the London Transport as a driver……..More later.
No sooner was I back in London than the air raids picked up again. This time with Doodle Bugs, ( flying bombs) and rockets. Back down the urine saturated shelters. Walking to school and a siren goes of you don’t know to carry on or run back home. A real palaver.
The roads were clogged with military traffic. Tanks , planes, landing craft, Guns, and soldiers. D-Day was coming. Running beside the trucks we asked the US soldiers for gum. ” Any gum chum”………….
Then it was over. Lots of celebrating. No more air raid shelters. But still we were rationed. I was conscripted into the RAF. Two years doing bugger all. One year in Germany a few miles from Belsan the death camp. Two Germans who worked for me on a dump truck said the English were stupid for not joining the against the Russians. What fools…………………………..
I arrive by boat in the USA as an immigrant 1954 after working in a factory on a lathe and realizing it was not going to get me anywhere. The new world here I come.
A visit to Provincetown and the art world answered my question, what is it I really want to do with my life? I found art. It was my calling.
I experienced a war caused by Adolph Hitler. A dictator who terrorized the world and caused tens of millions of deaths and he was not fazed by his actions.
Now I have the sickening feeling I am living that same experience again with Donald Trump. One only has to look around He is embracing other dictators the way Hitler did with Mussolini and Tajo. It all so very obvious, but the GOP seems to be oblivious to what is happening. Right now on the Mexican border with the separation of children from their mothers. It’s cruel inhuman but very Trumponian. He has pardoned Arpaio a pathological sheriff who, given free rain would run death camps as Himmler did.
Why is this happening? The Gop is allowing it to happen. At the moment in Texas, migrant children are being separated from their parents. It is cruel mean spirited. Have you ever watched prisoners arriving at Auschwitz? It is so very similar.
As a child I was separated twice from my family. I know how those kids feel, I lived it. I was fed and clothed and treated well. But not to be able to turn to a mother or father was distressing. Do not let him continue in this way. He emulates the Russians and is using their blueprint to become a dictator. DON’T IGNORE WHAT HE IS UP TO.
Today I am so proud of Americas school children. They are responding to the inaction of the government on gun control. It is combined with the loss of by a republican representative in Pennsylvania. It is a combined blow to the GOP that will wake them up to the fact that the people are aware they are being controlled by big money and the NRA.
Many of the young students will be of voting age n a year or two. Their vote will be felt in the next election. My daughter is taking her children, Ruby 12, Oliver 9, to Washington on the 22Nd of this month to march on the capital.
Trump won the district in Pennsylvania by twenty points in his election. Last night after the GOP pumped over $10,000,000 into the republican candidate and lost big time to the democrat Lamb.. I believe the moral of this is, action speaks louder than money.
I am behind what the school children are doing. They are the future. They express themselves magnificently when asked, why.?
Things are changing for the better after a year of Trump blight. GET BEHIND THE CHILDREN!
Spring begins one fortnight from to day. There is a Japanese cheery tree across from my studio and each year it gives me great pleasure to watch the buds swell then burst into a cascade of white and pinkish blooms. These are thoughts that get me through the winers gloom..
figurative expressionist artist …………………………………………………………… This is a blog by the artist expressing thoughts on his own paintings as well as experiences with others relating to his daily life and life of painting since the 1950s. …………………………………………………………………. Paintings are posted with words from Bill that are as varied as extolling on the successes of his children, JZ and Liza, to the milestones of his grandchildren and on to his memories of fellow artists, collectors and shows. His art and words touch on things like politics, religion and the weather. ……………………………………………… For Bill, art and life are interwoven. ……………………………………. …………………………………