Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ride On William


I first knew William as "The Bicycle Man". I noticed him shortly after moving to Newnan. It was then that I first realized that every where I had ever lived, especially small towns, had a William...local individuals that lived by their own rules...danced to the beat of a very different drum. William could be seen everywhere on his bicycle...and what a bike. I couldn't begin to tell you everything he had on that bike but the painting accurately depicts the display. I decided to approach William and ask him if he minded if I took some photos so that I could do a painting. I've often seen folks I'd like to paint for one reason or another but usually can't get up the nerve to ask them. I approached William in the parking lot of the First Methodist Church where he frequented a senior citizens group. It did'nt take but a moment to realize that William was special. William was both deaf and mute. He could neither hear my words nor speak but somehow we understood each other. I did my best to act out my wish to take his picture and William came to life. He was a very animated gentleman...very good at expressing himself. Over time, I painted the picture and found William so I could show it to him. I did not expect his reaction...he cried...crossed his arms over his heart...signed the "love" sign and more than any speaking person, showed his emotions and joy at the image. The painting has hung for years in a local downtown restaurant called "The Redneck Gourmet"...a place of honor among other local personalities and memorabilia. In July, while I was on vacation, I got an email that William had died. I really barely knew William but felt like we had a connection through the painting. The past few years I had seen less and less of William as he grew older and unable to ride. William was a piece of the unique fabric of Newnan...he'll be missed.

7 comments:

lAUra said...

i never met william, but i feel like i know him from your painting. how great that he'll live on forever in your artwork.
~lAUra

Michael Goldsholl said...

That is an enlightened story. Perhaps your great offering, brilliantly executed was the show of positive attention he'd not received to that point.

What a wonderful story and how great to have read it.

thanks

Michael Goldsholl said...
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Michael said...
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Martin Pate said...

Thank you Laura and Michael for your uplifting comments!

Karen Martin Sampson said...

I too have sometimes wanted to paint someone I see somewhere but don't get the nerve to ask...if I do ask they are always thrilled and flattered. Painting William gave remembrance to his life which will live on. What a nice tribute to him! The painting has heart and soul and is beautifully painted.

Sandra Henderson said...

Oh how wonderful! So happy that you did paint him. We had a man named DElus Nobles and he was a hobo I suppose... I was afraid of him as a child. However, he'd come by daddy's shop and they'd talk then he'd be on his way. Never wanted a hand out, just "passing through" going across town. He chose to walk, but oh what a ride your friend had. LOVE his bike! I know he's missed by many.