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


What explains the length and depth of your friendship?

Melvin Edwards: Well, you know, I’m a person who takes things lightly. It was easy to be friends with them, that’s all. Whenever we got together, we enjoyed each other and talked to each other. You know, we argued, we argued, we had differences of opinion.

Sam Gilliam: Let’s say they are my creative partners. I really like the work of both Mel and Bill, and whenever we work together it makes us competitive and therefore not beaten by the other. I always get excited when I have the opportunity to exhibit with them because I will find something special. Because if I don’t… As Mel will say, I know you’re going to have to wear red shoes to keep up with us!

ME TOO: There has It can go a long way because you’re talking about a series of relationships that started in the 60s. And that was 60 years ago. This is encyclopedic, obviously. And we’ve all come a long way with it. You know, when you give the ball to Willie, you don’t know where it’s going. You look up and say, ‘Okay, wait a minute. He just scored.’ You know? And here it is: trusting each other, our talents and intentions will come in handy.

William T Williams: I think part of our eternal friendship has a lot to do with common interests and the feeling that there is so much that can be done. Sam was in Washington. Mel and I were in New York. And over the years it was a constant dialogue, meeting either by phone or sometimes literally, meeting halfway. down. Sam used to come to Baltimore; We’d land in Baltimore, have lunch there, and have an exhibition or a meeting about some of our ideas. It’s a friendship that transcends the art world, and the linking of three people who are very much involved in the arts, but more interested in three individuals as human beings. Their aspirations, their commonalities, and the sense that they’re just having fun together.

ME TOO: I was kissing Sam the other day because I remember when he played tennis. He was practically a tennis club in Washington. I have never played. I like to run five yards and knock someone down badly. So I was a football player. I know Willie is involved in the track and is a wide jumper. So these are the things we’ve learned about each other over the years. It is natural to taunt and talk. This visual art was our arena – we developed our own variations. And then, when we ran into each other, we found ways that could work. [together].



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