Bill Bartman, continued [and very likely forever]

bookish Bill

A full week after it was reported to the rest of the world the NYTimes finally got around to including the news of Bill Bartman's death, at the very bottom of its page of obituaries.

Many will be dismayed over what they will find there. It will be a shock to his friends, admirers and co-workers, and even to those who were often put off by his brusqueness. It will confound the thousands of people from every walk of life who have been touched by and encouraged by his love and respect for the arts, especially the visual arts, and above all the artists themselves.

This short factual account of his birth and the places of his residences, the names of the unique institutions he created and guided, the cause and location of his death and the names of family survivors will not satisfy those who survive him and continue to take joy in the art he encouraged and nurtured so selflessly.

The contracted text of the paper's obituary reads like the paid death notices typeset on the page to the right in the print edition. It would not even challenge the resources of a small-town weekly shopping rag.

The Bill Bartman left on that page today is not the irrepressible genius I was privileged to know and who persuaded me against my every inclination and better judgment to become a part of his foundation's board. I would never have said yes, or been so devoted to "William S. Bartman, 58, Art Patron", in the words of the Times headline.

Bill could be incredibly charming and absolutely impossible almost at the same moment. His many art books and his "bookstore-gallery" were totally unique. No one who happens across any of these beautiful published tributes to one or more artists, and especially to art itself, or who ever wandered into the eccentric, cookie-stocked Chelsea space he dominated will ever forget his work.

This dynamo doesn't fit into five column inches. It will take an artist and a great editor to tell his story. I'm sorry the NYTimes wasn't up to it this morning.

See the warm tributes, the giggles and the stories which have been accumulating as comments to my post of September 25.

UPDATE: There will be a memorial for Bill Bartman at 2 pm on Saturday, November 5, at the Society of Friends Meeting House off Stuyvesant Square. Everyone is welcome. There will be cookies.

[image furnished by A.R.T.]

I loved Bill and I always will love Bill. One day in the gallery (ART)) to cheer me up he sang Marat Sade all day progressively louder and louder, with laughter in his eyes the whole time. He was brilliant, and an incredible role model, anger, tantrums and all. He loved art and artists, and championed us all, everyone at A.R.T. to believe in our selves and each other as only real family and community could. His creatiivity was naked, unprotected. and he was fiercely protective at the same time. We laughed, cried, confided in each other. He will live on in our art and minds. In my paintings and everyone's art who was there today, that's one way he'll live on. Thanks for a wonderful memorial, to everyone who made it possible and all who were there today. Sorry I couldn't find words then & there. Love, jackie Lipton

I was “googling” Bill Bartman today, and I found out this way that he died in September last year. This is very sad news for me. We were friends, although we only met occasionally, considering that I live in Europe. The first time we met in 1996, when I knocked the door of the Art Resources Transfer Inc., looking for opportunity to show my work. Bill immediately offered me an exhibition! What at first looked to me as my success, was actually the indication of Bill’s enormous comprehension for people. Not having the place to stay in New York, he also offered me to stay in his house. I do not think that other gallery owners do such things for artists! He was one of the most colorful, life-full and openhearted people I ever met. I will miss Bill when I will come to New York next time.