Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Goodbye Elemore. And thank you.

AUGUST 6, 1931 - MAY 18, 2008

Dear Elemore,

I just found out that you are gone, and the wind was sucked out of me. It has been many years since I was in your class, and it is still so clear to me that you changed my relationship to drawing, and more importantly to myself. I didn't grow up in a family that knew how to appreciate artistic talent, much less encourage it. You did. And with me you did it with grace, gentleness, authenticity and care. It seems you were that way with everything you did in your life. You modeled for me the way I want to live my life, with courage and curiosity and enthusiasm. At 76 you were younger and more full of life than most people I know half that age.

I'm so grateful that you and I had a chance to talk a couple of months ago when I asked you to write a letter of recommendation for me as I prepare to go to grad school. It had been years since we'd talked, and yet we picked right up and had a riveting conversation about art, teaching, and the nature of drawing. I talked about that discussion with many of my friends. And now, the letter you wrote for me is a cherished possession. Tears are coming down as I write this. You saw me and honored me and blessed me, at a time when I needed it. And thanks to you and your loving ways, I draw more now than ever. I will always be in your debt, and I'm dedicating my graduate school experience to you, so that when I'm short on inspiration I'll know where to turn.

Rest in peace my friend. I'll look for you in the clouds and the wind and blue, blue sky, and know you are still at work.



  1. Elemore would be proud of how he inspired you and the drawing that celebrates his gift to you. Enjoyed today, too, Willie. Stay tuned...

  2. Anonymous6:09 PM

    So sweet. How wonderful to be Elemore and to be able to know that your blog entry exists, which I imagine he does know, whoever or whatever he is now.

  3. It's very apt his name contains the word "more" -- from what you wrote, he had a gift for finding more in you than you may have known was there, and more art and craft and joy everywhere. Sending happy thoughts your way about your grad school thang, so tell more when you can!

  4. aww.. thats such a beautiful and heart-felt letter! and it made me cry too.. wherever she is i know she's proud of you! its so rare to find such a mentor and im glad you shared this with us. how i wish i could write such a letter for someone..

  5. Marilyn4:56 PM

    How strange that you admired in this person what you yourself already are such a nurturing person to all you come in contact with and your ideas are so fresh and inspirational. So, I guess you are passing on what this person did for you.
    Grad School? Me thinks you should be teaching, not taking, classes!

    Marilyn in Ohio

  6. i was so sad when i received the email last week. a wonderful tribute, willie. love the illustration.

  7. He reminds me of Tom Waits a little bit...
    Nice draw and tribute.

  8. I enjoyed this entry and the drawing.
    It's good to have a special teacher...

  9. Absolutely beautiful...I'm speechless and tearful.

    You've described and have become every teacher's dream - to inspire, leave a mark on those you teach...hoping they will realize their potential and be far better than you ever could be.

    All the best,


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