Goodbye, Bill. Goodbye, Tat.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The beautiful thing about having beautiful, creative friends is that they have beautiful, creative friends.

From sweet Wade Wharton, the Huntsville artist who has become my very good friend for several years now, I got to meet his friend, Bill Wilson.  Actually, before I visited his home, I had seen Bill's art at the Monte Sano Art Show:

Monte Sano Art Show, Huntsville AL

Bill passed away in July and I've just been putting off writing this post as I just did not...did not want to acknowledge in my mind that Bill was gone.  Bill was not only a pique assiette artist, he was a great storyteller, who among everything else had great stories about moving to Huntsville from Memphis, back when Werner von Braun was running things in Huntsville and needed people proficient with computers. Bill came.  It must've been just an incredible time to be working in rocketry.

Some of Bill's pique assiette:
Bill Wilson, Huntsville Mosaic Artist

'Pique assiette' is the term for taking broken plates and such and putting them back together in pattern or design.  The 'father' of pique assiette is Raymond Isidore (my friend Henk has a post about him here at his fantastic European art environments site, and there's more at the end of this post in a nice video).

Beatles on the left:
Bill Wilson, Huntsville Mosaic Artist

...and this is what Bill called his 'American Sampler' made from coffee cups:
Bill Wilson, Huntsville Mosaic Artist

Along with everything else, Bill was a poet:

I just have to mention this, too: Bill was blessed with incredibly successful children (each of them an artist). One is Emily Wilson.  Terrific.

This from the Valley Planet in Huntsville, with reminiscences of Bill from other friends.

Last week, the world lost Tat Bailey.  Oh, this hurts!  Tat was over 100 years old.  I was lucky to know Tat and to have visited him a few times, including one particularly memorable one in which we ate groceries I had brought from Birmingham in the log cabin on his property because the power was out for days due to the April 2011 tornado outbreak.  If I remember correctly, some things we heated on the grill and others in the fireplace just like 'in the old days'...

Tat was one who built things.  He built his place all himself, and had a special love for working with rock:

...he built onto a log cabin that's been in the family since it was first built in 1860:

...and a wishing well:

...and he even built his own covered bridge:
...which he purposefully built listing a bit to one side because he wanted it to be wabi-sabi.



Wade on the left and Tat on the right:

Tat's niece and caretaker took me all around the house on my first visit, and I saw all of Tat's masonry work, the beautiful floors he's laid, the furniture he's made, all kinds of amazing things.  She said I *had* to see what everybody is always so interested in downstairs.  I had no idea...
Tat built his own coffin.  Those clothes on the left were bought at Hammers for that day.  Those six hammers on top will be used for the final nailing of the lid, and each person that does that task will have his own hammer to keep.  He's even recorded certain songs for the funeral from a Sacred Harp singing - Saints Bound for Heaventhis one that begins with Amazing Grace, and Journey Home. The article that ran in the H'ville Times about Tat and his work mentioned his preparations, and KTW read it and sent him a letter about the fact that she also already had her coffin made too:
(He loved KTW!)

Tat is known by that name, but his real first and second name were -- well, his daddy was a baseball fan -- Tyrus Cobb.  So on Tat's front door:

From another of my visits -- we wanted to take pictures of each other in one of his arches:Tat
What a sweet, special man.

More of Tat's work here.

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