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Glory or Ruination? Where Will William "Bill" Alexander Show up in Art History Books?

The author met Bill Alexander at age sixteen in 1966, knew him like a father, delivered his eulogy and executed his last will and testament.

Hmmm...

The last in the "masterpiece series" of original oil paintings by Bill Alexander (unfinished and unsigned)

The last in the "masterpiece series" of original oil paintings by Bill Alexander (unfinished and unsigned)

The Long Road Home

I have opened with this painting and saved it until the last. From a distance and up close it looks very controversial.

It would, of course, because religion is obviously the theme.

I am not going to speculate what it was Bill Alexander was thinking when he began this incomplete work.

I can tell you he wasn't fond of people telling him or others what to do, think or feel for the sole purpose of wielding power.

And, after spending the first hour of every school day studying the catechism at a Roman Catholic separate school for the first eight years of my mind forming life, I can see why.

I got real pissed at the pope of the day when it was announced that after three thousand years or so, it was no longer a cardinal sin to eat meat on a Friday!

I felt so manipulated.

But...

St. Thomas Acquinas, a rather large Roman Catholic elementary school in Toronto, was also a very good school. I learned. The nuns and lay teachers were about learning and not socializing. They even employed corporal punishment in those days. I remember getting "the strap". It was here I learned the importance of discipline.

Bill and I both agreed on the importance of discipline, especially self-discipline, if you were going to survive, anything.

Bill also was a "Roman Catholic", technically. There are a lot of "sacraments" that make you one, whether you want to be or not. It starts with baptism. Neither one of us were churchgoers.

Bill just believed in doing the right thing, and most of being an RC was just about doing the right thing, as I recall.

But then there was the Spanish Inquisition, popes with armies and even a female pope.

Get the picture?

I did, right away.

Others saw it differently, I guess.



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I would have thought...

When Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody, it didn't kill their rock star status. If anything, it elevated and differentiated them from others fighting for rock star prominence.

Yup, it was a risk. Isn't creativity and originality great!

I wasn't anxious to divest myself of these paintings for many years after they came into my possession. Nobody liked them and I think some thought them horrible. I didn't know what to do, so I did nothing.

The Alexander name had fallen into an abyss after his death, and nobody cared about his art or perhaps any art for a period of time. The dot.com era boomed, then busted followed up by 9-11. Times got tough for some. Ourselves included.

I reached out to someone I thought would have been happy to acquire these paintings of Bill's. Indeed, they were, and we agreed on a price of US $12,500 for the series.

It never happened. I don't even know why this person, invested in Bill Alexander, would walk away without a follow up after the reason for the renege may have been resolved.

I just assumed they lost interest and times were hard.

So, the paintings laid quietly in our "art vault", ignored a while longer until I wrote and published an article, William "Bill" Alexander: The Man Few Knew, shortly after the anniversary of his passing in 2014, in memory and to fulfill my obligation to him. Time was passing and I was three years away from my best before date, according to my grade four teacher way back when.

The article wasn't that well-read (it wasn't that well written either) but it did attract two persons willing to help me get these painting out of my closet and into the hands of someone who would care about them for the rest of time.

Helper number one, we will call him John, thought the paintings were pretty special. And he, being an active student of the Alexander disciple-hood, was happy to spread the word of their need for a new home as well as say "Hey everybody, look what I discovered!"

Shortly after John announced his discovery, John decided he could no longer help me.

Helper number two was a museum curator who learned to paint watching Bill paint on television. Jeff painted the most beautiful tropical scenes using Bill's wet-on-wet techniques.

Jeff maintained his own website and offered to build an online gallery for these paintings of Bill's for others to view. Suspiciously, the images of Bill painting on TV are there, but the masterpiece series images have disappeared. Perhaps as many as two thousand persons may have viewed these paintings based on recent results, before they were removed.

Don't you love a mystery?




Approaching the Obvious

Remember Don Quixote? My donkey is a German Shepherd Dog named Suki. We haven't slain a thing.

Bill was of German descent, became a Canadian and earned his living in the United States.

Let me see. A Canadian who turned regular folk around the world onto painting in oils. Maybe the National Art Gallery of Canada would be interested in Bill's works?

So, in 2017 I sent an email to the Executive Assistant to the Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Canada detailing Bill's history and asking if they had any interest in acquiring these paintings. I am still waiting for a reply.

Somewhere along the way, I contacted Sotheby's to see if they would be interested in auctioning them off. Perhaps I used the wrong address as I am still awaiting their response.

There were several galleries willing to find online buyers for less than what eBay sellers are asking for their originals.

Suki and I got tired of chasing windmills, and so we just forgot about it for a while.

And Then a Great Flood was Unleashed

The nice thing about oil paintings is they store well in dry, cool, well-ventilated areas, like a closet under the stairs.

But, humidity and water, well that's something else.

When the hot water tank gave up the ghost in the adjacent closet this past summer, we were fortunate to discover the burst shortly after it occurred and limited the damages to the floor.

Nonetheless, it was evident these paintings of Bill's had survived by chance and good fortune.

Something had to be done soon.

About a month ago two emails were sent to organizations I determined would benefit most from acquiring these paintings.

One was to PBS where Bill did get his big break. Offering up the paintings for fundraising purposes made sense.

The other was to the company that appears to market Alexander products and services more than any supplier. They were offered several options: straight up purchase, assistance to find a buyer for a fee due to their reach or use them to memorialize Bill in some way.

After ten days and hearing no response, I sent an email withdrawing my offers. I was disappointed organizations who continue to benefit from Bill Alexander's efforts were so indifferent. Not just to the paintings. It seems they have no interest in giving Bill Alexander his due.

So, I started writing.



Epilogue

This should be the end, but it may not be.

Four articles about Bill Alexander and his "masterpiece series" have been published in the past ten days. They are being read in much greater numbers than expected and in unexpected countries, like the Philippines, Syria, Pakistan and Venezuela. There are more German readers per capita than the US.

Apparently, Bob Ross was and still is big in Germany. Until recently, Germany didn't even know Bill Alexander existed.

So, who knows where this will actually end. But, when it does, you will hear it from this source first.

Do You Know Where Your Bill Alexander Original Oil Painting is?

There are six still-lifes like this one for sale at present.

There are six still-lifes like this one for sale at present.

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