I wasn't the only one who saw it. Driving over the Gandy bridge from Tampa to St Pete, the sun easing itself into the horizon behind a veil of clouds, there was a moment when several shafts of bronze-gold light, what photographers call "God Beams", broke through to the ground. They seemed to be over Beach Drive.
Later, a woman speaking at the Memorial in a quavering voice mentioned seeing this sight, saying it looked as if Bill Woo had painted the sky.
|Carol Mickett & Robert Stackhouse|
|Friends of Bill Woo|
One of my favorite stories, something I saw Woo do on more than one occassion, was about two young girls fascinated by seeing Woo live paint, who approached the work. Woo, to their mother's initial dismay, handed them a brush and they got to paint spots on a grouper. All three were by the microphone, and you could see that they too had been touched by Woo and the magic of art.
|Frank Strunk III|
|Sarah Thee Campagna|
|Derek Donnelly & Dirty Tom|
.... silly things, kindness, love and wisdom from a multitude of perspectives as we spiritually huddled under a blueing sky, celebrating his life, mourning his loss, contemplating our own lives while thoroughly experiencing what it means to be human.
Listening to so many loving, appreciative testimonials, I realized that as with many other artists' lives, BC Woo had not just lived life well and made works of art: He had become one.
|Jenipher Chandley at work|
|Mermaid by Jenipher Chandley|
Torrents of faces, memories, and thoughts about Art and how it folds our lives like origami raced through me. I drove to the 600 block. It was empty save for a few couples walking close together. I found myself at BC Woo's gallery. The love messages fluttered in the cooling wind. Below, flowers and candles burned into the night.
I walked, illuminated by the light from the storefront and gallery windows, and around the corner on 6th, into the alley to see Derek Donnelly's mural of Woo hoping others would be there.
They were. The visage of Woo towered over us, transforming the alley. We talked and hung closer than we normally do. As the evening wore on, life resumed in that alley as Derek painted, a beautiful old dog performed tricks. Laughter resonated between the walls. Among many other things, Art is an affirmation of life.