Why is it, when somebody passes away, we say we lost them?
On Friday, October 27th, the Benicia art community lost a good friend, a brilliant artist and truly gracious man. In all actuality, Bill is not lost… he’s living securely in our hearts where he’s always been.
I first met Bill Harsh when I was volunteering at Arts Benicia nearly 17 years ago. At first, I was intimidated because he was such a respected artist… but once I got to know him, Bill’s geeky soft-spoken demeanor and sharp wit put me at ease. Bill was always ready to laugh, smile and share a hug.
Years later I worked at Las Olas, just downstairs from Bill’s studio…. by then Bill was teaching at the Arts Benicia’s Classroom. He was an extremely popular instructor and responsible for introducing many local artists to monotype printing. There is a family-vibe among those living and working in the Benicia Arsenal… Papa’s became our Seinfeld diner for lunches.
When my job moved to Carmel to host art retreats, Bill graciously traveled south as our encaustics instructor. I felt lucky to work very closely with Bill, who inspired me to find my own style as an artist. I learned so much from Bill and he always returned the respect I had for him.
When Bill was diagnosed with cancer, he and I met for lunch to openly discuss the situation. As with everything he does, Bill made it his job to fight it. As usual, I was impressed with his commitment and perseverance.
Being careful to avoid catching colds, Bill avoided kissing people. I asked him if we could make-out after he beat the cancer, he laughed with that aw shucks grin and agreed.
I still can’t believe he’s gone… I feel so lucky that I saw him a few weeks ago. While my heart is broken that Bill has moved on ahead of the rest of us, I know we will be friends in the next life… I may even get that make-out session I was promised.