Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bill: Chief Cadet in the Sculpture Corps

When I think about the amazing group of people who work with us at the studio I’m frequently reminded of the Peace Corps slogan, “The hardest job you’ll ever love.”

It’s a strange invitation to make to anyone: “Come and be a starving artist with me. You’ll work until you drop, make no money, have to walk the dog, and come home covered in plaster, fiberglass, clay and who-knows-what else.” That anyone would even think of applying, much less staying and working, is a kind of miracle. Perhaps it’s the invitation to share in the adventurous struggle, the good, the bad and the messy that fosters the amazingly high quality of people who become the studio family.

Bill is our head studio manager. He just returned from a much-deserved vacation and his absence from the studio was palpable. The studio is in so many ways lost without him. Bill knows where we keep the “good rubber,” the scalpels that are still sharp and a host of other items that we seem to need as soon as he walks out the door.

In the years they have worked together, Steven and Bill have taken mutual admiration to its highest level. To their own frustration, they get mistaken for brothers at least once a day. But physical resemblance aside, the relationship has a necessarily familial nature. It’s not just the time and close proximity born of working in the studio. It’s the amazing gesture of trust seen in handing over responsibility of your artwork to another. Bill and all the staff consider Steven’s work with such love and reverence that there is never any apprehension.

Bill fights alongside Steven in the frequently bizarre trenches of the art community of Carmel and beyond. Their work often seems more like a series of bizarre adventures than art production. At last year's hearing of Carmel’s strident Design Review Board Bill was there. When we were anxious to improve production quality Bill learned how to pour waxes. At our recent show at the Sunset Center Bill brought no less than eight guests and spent the whole evening sharing detailed stories about each sculpture with everyone who would listen. When we needed help moving Bill was there - with a truck. Moral support, muscle and unquestionable talent - it's all there.

I clearly remember the first New Year’s Eve after Bill came on staff. Steven and I were talking with friends over champagne about the things we were thankful for in the past year. Without pause Steven said simply, “Bill.”

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