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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bill Sullivan, 1942-October 22, 2010

Yesterday morning, our dear friend Bill Sullivan died at Saint Peter's Hospital, Albany, New York, with his partner Jaime Manrique by his side, as well as his close friend Aurora Manuel.

The Groundwater Press was honored to have published the catalogue for Bill's retrospective exhibition in 2006 at the Albany Institute of History and Art. The Autobiography of Bill Sullivan by Jaime Manrique has forty-eight colorplates of Bill's landscapes, from New York City, upstate New York, South America, California, and Cape Cod, and includes both a preface by John Ashbery and a statement by Reinaldo Arenas.

Bill was also a publisher, through his Painted Leaf Press. He published Eugene's collection of poems entitled Island Light, and mine, called Other Selves, as well as many other important titles by New York School writers and poets. We collaborated with him, through The Groundwater Press, to publish Susan Baran's book of poems, The Necessary Boat. Bill's gorgeous image of the New York City skyscape graces the cover of Jaime's book My Night with Federico Garcia Lorca, which Groundwater first published. (It is now in print with the University of Wisconsin Press.)

Painted Leaf Press was an award-winning small press with a wonderful list of titles, a project into which Bill poured his energy and resources for many years: a great gift of invested time and confidence in every author he published.

When Bill introduced Eugene to John Ashbery in 1983, he created a wide new channel for our lives, bringing us into the heart of a vast, vital network of writers and artists. Jamie Manrique had introduced Eugene to Bill while Jaime and Eugene were translating Jaime's poetry. Bill was a St. Lawrence Seaway, an Erie Canal, taking us through time and space, from the Hudson River School of Frederic Church and Olana, into the New York School in Manhattan and beyond.

In the mid-eighties, Bill painted portraits of Eugene and me; mine is on the cover of Other Selves. When our son Joe was thirteen, Bill decided to paint him too, wearing a red Hudson tee-shirt. The painting graced a shop window on Warren Street all that season, and now all three of our portraits are on our living room wall

Our walls are full of his landscape visions, from Niagara Falls to Antisana Volcano. New York Harbor, Cotopaxi, Olana, Paterson Falls, and Manhattan at night: we live with the windows he painted, opening into worlds of exceptional color and detail, scope and variety, light and distance.

We will miss him--his conversation, full of news, plans, discoveries, and traveler's tales; his energy and encouragement; his company and his steady familiar, familial affection.

Below are some links to Bill's work and biography:

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