#1 June 2009
A memorial for a friend.
Acrylic on paper, 30 x 22 inches.
Notes about this painting...
For many years I have had a separate studio on the
grounds of my house. Several years ago, I decided to remodel a
very large upstairs room in the house in order move my studio work into the house. I
hired a friend to do the work because he was so much better a craftsman than
I, and with much better ideas about what work to do and how to do it.
After I had moved the studio inside, I ended up by renting my outside studio to him. We critiqued each other's art,
worked together on one project or another, traded books and read and
argued and were very close for at least ten years.
On the afternoon of June 1, I went out to the studio to see my
friend and found him dead
from unknown causes. (Now in early July, the Coroner is still making
the toxicology tests.) The texts in the columns below are excerpts from my studio notes from
the days of that time.
June 1, 2009.
Some notes as assignments to students in The Lessons of The
(Note: Lessons of the Masters is the group of paintings
#s 2.1-50 June 2009.
Click here or click the image below for
the complete set.):
Make works that give...
All the warmth of summer days past
All the days of old times past
All the gleaning of last year’s harvest
All the colors of rainbows fallen
All the dark of winter come too soon
All the black of death that never left
All the sound of full moon rising
What to do with your work when you have finished:
One day you will go where horizon meets the sky, leaving here
behind these stones scattered from your passage.
June 1, 2009.
Oakland, late afternoon.
Found my friend's body dead in the studio.
Called his mother in Colorado and left for Montreal that night.
June 29, San Francisco, evening, at the memorial for
(This painting, #1 June 2009, was displayed on
a table beside some of my friend's paintings. During the event, I
wrote some notes about the painting to use when it was my turn to
speak. The notes follow)
…I had some pieces that I had made—scraps to be the grounds for
something else—that were too strong in themselves ever to be the
background for anything, and found one that seemed to express to me my
feeling of what my friend's feelings might have been. I placed it, a
bleeding burning dark with red rising beyond, on a black rectangle in
a bleeding red ground… There was a faint pale place in the red—a
stain—at the top of the black rectangle, a pale place that called for
I don’t believe in
immortality, but I cannot make a work of art of death without somewhere
finding a star for beyond…
I Sent the painting to my friend's mother on July 3.