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Melvin Edwards, Sam Gilliam, and William T. Williams: Abstract Artists and Old Friends

What defines the length and depth of your friendship?

Melvin Edwards: You know, I’m a person who takes things for granted. They were easy to be friends with and it was. Every time we got together we enjoyed each other, talked to each other. You know, we argued, discussed, we had differences.

Sam Gilliam: Let’s assume they are my creative partners. I really like both Mel’s and Bill’s work and every time we work together it makes us competitive and therefore doesn’t let us be trumped by the other. I am always happy when I get the opportunity to exhibit with them because I will come up with something special. Because I know that if I didn’t… as Mel would say, you’d have to wear red shoes to keep up with us!

ME: there are it can go so many ways because you’re talking about a series of relationships that started in the ’60s. And that’s 60 years ago. This is frankly encyclopedic. And we’ve all walked so many paths with it. You know, when you hand Willie the ball, you don’t know where it’s going. You look up and say, “Well, wait a minute. He just scored.’ You know? And that’s the way it is: trust each other, that our skills and intentions will work.

William T Williams: I think part of our enduring friendship has a lot to do with common interests and the feeling that there’s a lot you can do. Sam was in Washington. Mel and I were in New York. And over the years there has been a constant dialogue, either by phone or sometimes literally through halfway meetings Low. Sam would come to Baltimore; We went to Baltimore, had lunch there and got together for an exhibition or any ideas we had. It’s a friendship that transcends the art world and a connection between three people that has a lot to do with art but more with the three individuals than people. A sense of their aspirations, their similarities, and just having fun together.

ME: The other day I kissed Sam because I remember when he was playing tennis. He was practically a tennis star in Washington. I have never played. I love running five meters and knocking someone out. That means I was a soccer player. I know Willie was involved in athletics and was a long jumper. So these are things that we’ve found out about each other over the years. Teasing and talking is natural. This visual art was our arena – well, we worked out our own variations. And then when we met each other, we found ways that this could work [together].

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/31/t-magazine/melvin-edwards-sam-gilliam-william-t-williams.html Melvin Edwards, Sam Gilliam, and William T. Williams: Abstract Artists and Old Friends

Luke Plunkett

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