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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:

The two urls below will not link through from this blog, but paste them in your browser and try from there:


Erin C. said...

Thanks, Roseanne. Wonderful words of remembrance. We will all miss him.

Erin C in NYC

Sam said...

Bill Sullivan was such a good and generous friend, he had a wonderful belief in art as one of the best things people do. I think he taught me the sensuality of friendship. I told him about feminism and he told me about carpets and being gay. He was vulnerable and tough at once and connected to many people.
He meant something to me.

Sam said...

Whoops, This is Marjorie ,Sams wife, I used his google account. I made the last comment credited to him We both knew Bill for decades.

Joe said...

Bill and I became friends at Penn graduate school in the 1960’s. We remained that way in New York but had a falling out shortly before I moved to Baltimore in the 1989. When our mentor at Penn, the painter, Neil Welliver died a few years ago, Bill called to let me know that Neil had passed; he said it was “time to bury the hatchet”. The burden of purposeful distance was relieved.
After the call we continued to stay in touch by phone to talk about art and to find out how our friends were doing.
I never felt or thought there was finality to the parting we had in the living, Now there is a stubbornness, a foot against the ground.
Reconciling life and loss is complex, it dwells on the inside. Forever, we struggle with this. Sometimes we understand when we read, listen or see it from an artist that “knows”; we are moved unlike anything else.
If you read this Jaime, my email is and Facebook.
My thoughts go to you.


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