The author met Bill Alexander at age sixteen in 1966, knew him like a father, delivered his eulogy and executed his last will and testament.
The Legacy of William "Bill" Alexander
In the course of my lifetime, I've discovered certain situations provide for opportunity and/or advantage. Being the equivalent of a "fly on the wall" is one of them.
In the world of William "Bill" Alexander, I was and still am a fly on the wall of Bill Alexander's business life.
Our relationship was personal and about deeply rooted mutual respect. I was a really good retail banker and he was a really good artist. We were both very well aware of each others' accomplishments and celebrated those personal successes. And, we never poked our noses in each other's business. I knew as much about art and the business of art as he did about how money worked. Nothing that would give either of us any credibility.
But, Pop (I was SandyBandy - pet names exist between people who trust each other) did come to understand the value of what I carried around in my head as a banker and my knowledge of business generally. So, when he had concerns about something, he would ask my opinion. Like some of his contracts. Not so much to advise, but to explain in layman terms what they meant financially.
I met Pop at age sixteen and had the good fortune to live with him for about one amazing year, for me. Maybe for him too, I guess, because, here we are.
I was a dumb, scared kid when we first met and he was busking at malls hoping to sell a painting for groceries or rent, depending on the day's priority. It was a happy day when Bill made a happy buck! Somehow, whenever it was bleakest, happy bucks would just appear, according to Bill. That's why they're happy bucks. Turns out he was right about what happens when you're happy with who you are and passionate about what you're doing.
While never mentioned, it was always understood between us we would have each others' backs should the need arise. And we always did.
Turns out he was right about what happens when you're happy with who you are and passionate about what you're doing.
The Posthumous Unveiling
As it turns out, Bill Alexander's back is to the wall. He and all he created is on the verge of fading out of cultural existence.
Shortly after Bill passed, a number of paintings from Bill's personal collection ended up in my possession. Nobody wanted them. Including the last painting he ever attempted, exchanges with other artists and a series of truly unique originals we discussed prior to their creation. Turns out these paintings were reviled among a number of circles.
Apparently, nobody wants them still. Not really sure why. Maybe because instead of painting something visually appealing and uncontroversial, these creations hit you between the eyes and send a message. You definitely will have some opinion.
They are also genius, at least in the Bill Alexander world, in my humble opinion. I know little about art, but think I know when something is important and why. These painting are important because they are original and separate him from his peers.
I could speculate about how such an unveiling might make some unwanted waves, but again, that's speculation. Maybe it really is just because nobody cares.
Either way, I owe it to Pop aka William "Bill" Alexander to find out.
When we discussed these works, Bill asked that unveiling be done long after he passed and that anything I presented about him would be in a positive light.
Well, duh! Of course. And I did. And will do more this time round, but now with greater purpose. We are on a mission.
About eight years ago I published an article about my personal relationship with Bill. At the same time, I unveiled the paintings and explained how they came into existence. It was all positive, not that well read but as far as I was concerned I had fulfilled my obligation to Bill.
Someone has to make sure the world knows William "Bill" Alexander was the creator of everything Bob Ross/Bob Ross Inc. and many other artists benefits from today.
Bill's Masterpiece Series
Well guess what?
In my quest to locate a final resting place for what I consider Bill's "masterpiece" series of paintings as a minimum, let alone the rest of the collection, I came across a small comment someone made about an article about Bob Ross that gave me pause.
The article itself was about how Bob Ross influenced the art world despite what he produced. Bill Alexander, however, did this too and paved the way for Bob Ross.
But it was the comment that irked me. It read like "that German guy who paints like Bob Ross".
In addition to finding a home for this masterpiece series, someone has to make sure the world knows William "Bill" Alexander was the creator of everything Bob Ross/Bob Ross Inc. and many other artists benefit from today.
"That German guy who paints like Bob Ross" is the result of great marketing and control of the Bob Ross name/likeness/brand. They do it way better than anyone in the Bill Alexander world.
Bill did not invent the "wet-on-wet" technique. He mastered it though and made it his own.
No sour grapes here. Circumstances are circumstances and business is business.
So, for anyone thinking Bill had a problem with Bob Ross replacing him, wrongo!
But Bill was concerned his "identity" would be stolen by someone else laying claim to all he worked for. And it is happening.
Most people would like some form of immortality and some more so than others. Bill was driven by a number of things including audience adulation. But like a good rock star, he would feed off the energy and just give it right back. He also wanted to be remembered well and for all the right reasons.
I have set December 31st, 2023 as a date to find an appropriate home for Bill's masterpiece series, one way or another. And hopefully succeed in re-introducing Bill and all he brought to the world. Wouldn't you want that for someone you deeply care about and believe deserves it?
I sincerely hope I am not alone in believing Bill Alexander brought much joy, hope and opportunity to many.
Readers are invited to read about the results of my efforts.
Bill's Rightful Place in Cultural History
If you're a Bill Alexander fan, you may want to join me in the quest of ensuring Bill finds his rightful place in cultural history. I'm making it up as I go and I'm not getting any younger. And, not at all connected to the art world.
In my next submission I will unveil one of the finished and signed originals in the series, cover what I have done in the past and the responses I've received. I will also cover what I may do next in my quest.
In the meantime, here is a glimpse at one of the two unfinished works in the series of four paintings (two are signed). But, before you peek, please read this Wikipedia definition of a masterpiece in art:
A masterpiece, magnum opus, or chef-d’œuvre in modern use is a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or a work of outstanding creativity, skill, profundity, or workmanship.
A masterpiece doesn't have to check all the boxes (think Mona Lisa and not necessarily da Vinci's greatest work). More is better, of course. And don't ignore profundity.
Then compare to Bill's peers, contemporaries and, perhaps, other "Masters".