Every once in a while I come across a name I recognize – someone I knew – associated with some accomplishment that means they’re doing really well.
Although I’ve done a handful of things that I’m very proud of, that represent efforts I know many other people have stopped short of, it has of course meant sacrificing other goals. That hasn’t all quite settled for me, and I still want to accomplish everything. Everything.
Recently, I came across the info for this year’s Whitney Biennial. (No, I didn’t go see it…) And, I knew one of the artists exhibiting in it!
I did a little digging, and on search page 1, I found this:
I lived down the hall from William Cordova in the dorms during my first year of art school.
Does that make me famous?
And, furthermore, I don’t “know” him. I knew him and we never hung out except for maybe a couple of times when all the dorm residents would walk to Dunkin Donuts because some asshole on one floor or another hit a sprinkler head with a frisbee or something and set off the fire alarm. But those (fairly common) fire alarms were more or less the SAIC dorm social mixers of our day. They were how you met people, little gatherings that would scare the homeless people away from the Dunkin Donuts store front. They didn’t exactly mean you have blood brother oath alliances with the people living on your floor.
The thing about finding him in the Whitney and on youTube that keys in to reaffirm my view of the world is this:
- For several years, I’ve used him (without his name) as an example to my students – without ever knowing “what happend to him”.
The example is about work ethic and the breadth of different approaches to creative problem solving and goes something like this:
- Once upon a time I knew an artist… Who, although he may or may not do anything all week… when the weekend came, he’d go into the [communal] studio [everyone on our dorm floor shared] on Friday night and not come out until the wee hours of Monday morning. I’m not even sure if he slept. Then, when the weekend was all said and done, he’d have finished a hundred paintings! Really. So, 100 paintings in 2½ days? Couldn’t all be good. Nope. But, what if only 5 were? That’s 5 good paintings a week. My sorry butt labored Mon.-Fri. all day and maybe finished 2 good art works. And, then, even if you have as many as 95 paintings you don’t like, just paint over them next weekend. (I mean, they’re already started…)
Sure, I don’t know exactly how much of my account is an impression altered by time and embellishment. The basis of it is true though.
The moral of it is that even though I have no idea what Mr. Cordova has done in the 12 years or so since I last laid eyes on him, I am absolutely certain that he’s earned every ounce of success he’s made for himself. I just know it. And, I’m happy to see all that work has brought something back to him.