A native New Jerseyan, Kilpatrick studied at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, the School of Visual Arts, and the Art Students' League (both located in New York City). As background for creating public sculpture, he worked from 1980 to 1990 with sculptor Donald DeLue, the creator of the D-Day Monument in an American cemetery above Omaha Beach. Kilpatrick now serves as president and artistic curator of the DeLue Foundation. He also was director of the Sculptors Association of New Jersey.
Kilpatrick's most recent public sculpture, a commission from New Jersey Transit, salutes the historic Morris Canal that crossed New Jersey during the 1800s. For the eight-foot grouping, Kilpatrick depicts a captain guiding his flat-bottom boat with one hand on the helm the other enfolding two passengers. The boats were said to be part of the underground railroad. The sculpture was dedicated earlier this year at the new light-rail system's Essex Street Station, Jersey City.
Among the artist's other private and corporate commissions are a 12-foot football player standing at Florida's Citrus Bowl; a bull and bear for a brokerage firm's headquarters; and Lakewood's Kimball Center Humanitarian Award, a free-standing sculpture. Kilpatrick created the Earth Day International Environmental Award that has been presented to, among others, Vice President Gore and Green Peace.
He also is represented in Orlando with a life-size memorial statue of a beloved Mayor Beardall. In the charming informal pose that was commissioned by the city, Mayor Beardall is sitting outside on a bench. A young grandson on his knee is reaching to feed a seagull. The portrait of a sunny, human moment has become a local icon in downtown Orlando.
The artist has studios in the Highlands, where he lives, and in New York City. His work is included in private collections in the U.S., Canada, and France.
Obituary for William Kilpatrick
HIghlands, New Jersey
William Kilpatrick, age 79, died Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at home in Highlands. Mr. Kilpatrick was born in Caldwell, NJ. He served his Country Honorably in the Army in the 82nd Airborne.
As a figurative sculptor, his work gave him an avenue for his philosophy about living and dying, loving and laughing, searching and finding, losing and winning -- the mystery of this moment and eternity. "All this while keeping my feet firmly planted in the clouds."
Is this Caldwell native Bill Kilpatrick New Jersey's Rodin?
Jan 11, 2001
Kilpatrick, 66, grew up in Caldwell and graduated from Grover Cleveland High School in Caldwell. He studied at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts in Newark, as we ll as at the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students' League, both located in New York City.
"In my career as a sculptor, I have had not only a wonderful opportunity for self-expression but have also been exposed to a wide variety of sculptural challenes," he says.
Kilpatrick's work has been compared by some to that of the great French sculptor, Rodin (1840-1917).
Like Rodin's, Kilpatrick's sculptures seem to accentuate the use of light and shade with a movement that grows out of nothing and which reaches out and upward.
Some of his commissions have been for small commemorative works and others for larger statues, some of which are 12 feet and higher.
Among past honors over the years, Kilpatrick was a silver medal-winner at the Knickerbocker Artists' show at the Salmagundi Club in New York City. He was also chosen to represent the United States in the ITT International Art Exhibit.
In preparation for creating public sculpture, Kilpatrick worked from 1980 to 1990 with renowned American sculptor Donald DeLue (1897-1988) who is best-known for his sculpture, "The Spirit of American Youth," a memorial to the fallen soldiers on D-Day in Normandy, France.
Kilpatrick now serves as president and artistic curator of the DeLue Foundation in Highlands.
He is also the director for the Sculptors' Association of New Jersey.
Kilpatrick's most recent public sculpture is a commission from New Jersey Transit which was dedicated in early 1999.
This work, an eight-foot high grouping which adorns the new light rail system's Essex Street Station in Jersey City, remembers the historic Morris Canal that crossed New Jersey during the 19th century. In this piece, Kilpatrick depicts a captain rising from his flat-bottomed craft with one hand on the helm, the other grasping two passengers. According to the artist, the passengers are fugitive slaves, escaping to freedom when a portion of the canal was used as part of the Underground Railroad.
Among the artist's other commissions are a bull and a bear for the brokerage-firm D.L. Pimper at its headquarters in Rome, Ga., a free-standing sculpture for Lakewood's Kimball Center Humanitarian Award and a 12-foot tall football player standing at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
He is also represented in Orlando with a life-sized memorial statue of one of the city's beloved former mayors, William Beardall. In the informal pose commissioned by the city, Beardall is sitting outside on a bench, with a young grandson on his knee reaching to feed a seagull. The statue has become a local icon in downtown Orlando.
Kilpatrick also created the Earth Day International Environmental Award that has been presented to, among others, Vice President Al Gore and the environmental organization, Greenpeace.
Commissioned By Forbes
Earlier, Kilpatrick was commissioned by the late Malcolm Forbes to create a sculpture of the New Jersey publishing magnate. Kilpatrick says his interpretation, "Worth the Risk," captures the spirit and essence of Forbes' fun-loving and daredevil personality.
The piece shows the capitalist biker leaning on his Harley-Davidson, holding a model of a hot-air balloon. Several four-foot bronze casts were made, and one is on exhibit in a hot-air balloon museum in Balleroy, France.
In 1995, Kilpatrick's design for "Celebration" captured the state-sponsored award for sculpture at the Monmouth Museum in West Long Branch. The monumental 28- foot piece, intended to commemorate the 25th anniversary of what was then called the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel Township, was never completed due to fu nding problems. However, several models of the two-figure cosmic dancers and six -foot high models have been purchased by private collectors.
Kilpatrick's work has appeared in numerous one-person and group shows at the New Jersey State Exhibitions, Trenton; the Newark Museum Show, Newark; Somerset County Arts Association, Somerville; the Washington Square Art Exhibit and the Art Expo, both in New York City; and Monmouth University, West Long Branch.
Kilpatrick is also associated with such galleries as the Kinsley Gallery in Red Bank; the Graystone Gallery, Middletown; Realm Design, Warren, Sculpture Showcase, New Hope Pa., and Sculpture Showcase II in Naples, Fla.
Kilpatrick says it is difficult to define a philosophy or single attitude for his life time of creating art: "It is about our cosmic connection to the universe; about living and dying, loving and laughing, crying and sorrow, fear and haunt ing, searching and finding, singing and screaming, losing and winning, pain and ecstasy, the mystery of this moment and eternity. All this while keeping my feet planted firmly in the clouds."
The artist has his studio in the Highlands, where he lives with his wife, Nancy. He also has a studio in New York City. For information about upcoming shows, ca ll (732) 291-4056.
Interview with William Kilpatrick
William Kilpatrick is a 53 years old sculptor and painter who works in a studio addition to his house, which rests high on the hill above downtown Highlands overlooking the Navesink River and the Atlantic Ocean.
I have strange work hours actually. I'm a sporadic worker. If don't methodically sit down and plug for eight hours a day. There is no average day. There's an awful lot to sculpting. Sculpting is dull work, lt's like working in the coal mines. The creative part is 10%, the dog work is 90%.
If you're working in wood or some direct mediurn, it's finished. If you're sculpting clay, that is not a finished product. You can't walk into a gallery with a piece of clay. Even if it's cast in plaster, it's still not a saleable item. From there it's going to be cast either in bronze or potted bronze. Casting is two or three stages. I don't do my own casting. I would have to be a technician and I don't want to learn that at my age. I take it to have it done because I don't want to spend my Iife casting plaster, I wanna do the creative part.
It's a lot to explain. I'lt try to simplify it by saying that what you're looking at in front of you right now is clay. This is called plastinedia, it's like silly putty, it stays soft for up to two years. I do my original model in this and I have a mold put on there which is called a waste mold which is made out of plaster, and then they pull it apart.
When this mold is pulled apart and all the clay is cleaned out, that's the end of the origlnal clay figure, it's destroyed.
You put the plaster pieces together and you pour another plaster into it, then the waste mold, the outside mold, is broken off and you have what you see sitting there, in very rough form. you then have to finish that with all kinds of scraping and sanding. Now that's your interim stage before you get to bronze. That's when they put a rubber mold on that, That mold is separated, the orlginal is taken out, the rubber mold is put back together and a wax is poured into the rubber mold. This wax is a hollow wax poured into the mold and it represents what your bronze will be. Then it's turned over and it's filled with another mold inside called a form materiaJ. You put an outside mold on it and you've got the wax, okay, and they put pins all through it to keep the two molds from collapsing.
They put it into an oven and they burn out the wax. A11 the wax melts out and you've got a hollow area between the inside mold and the outside mold that duplicates your piece exactly. A molten tub of bronze is finally poured into the mold and it hardens and there's your bronze.
The bronze then has to be cleaned up because of discoloration. Does that ever get discouraging? The time?
That's really what is discouraging. I didn't have the time. Then it happened so I'11 make it happen. I shouldn't use the word discouraging, but it is complicated, it requires a also a lot of money.
Had you ever sculpted before?
No, not formally. I did papier mache and things like that. I always had a feeling for it, but I'd never done it. One of the reasons is because it always seerned so remote to go get the c1ay, the plaster, the bronze. You do a painting, it is a one on one thing, you know you get the canvas, you express yourself and that's it, it's finished. With sculpture it's a different story. There are a lot of stages involved. If was a painter and I guess I still am a painter. I sold paintings for about thirty years. About three, maybe four years agoit just kinda happened. I woke up one morning and said l really feel like sculpting. So I got started.
When did you first get interested in art?
I guess f was very young. My folks said I did great things when T was like six and seven and eight. I found some of those great things and they were total garbage. yeah, even for a sixyear-old, T thought they were pretty stupid. But I know that by the time f was in the seventh or eighth grade I had a real inclination towards art. I used to do it all the time. That was my main concern by the time f was in high school. Fortunately, my father, who was a dentist who had a very pragmatic lifestyle, recognized that f was never going to be a scholar, never gonna be a Latin teacher. I was barely passing algebra. fn those days, commercial art was becoming an accepted thingr ES long as it had the word'commerciaf'attached to it. Art by itself has always been llke the borderline thing, where you're always on the edge of society. So, at any rate, f had plenty of art classes during my last two years of high school because my father pul]ed some strings. Then I put a couple years in the Army. When I came back out of the service, I had gotten married for the first time. So now I'm thinking let's get serious abcut this. So I went back to school, art school. I think it was a three-year course.
I went to Newark SchooI of Modern Tndustrial Art and at the time f went there it was a little bit of a picnic. There were a lot of kids that didn't know what they wanted to do and had a little bit of talent. So there was a lot of qoofinq off in the atmosphere. But the instructors were al I professionals that taught one or two days a week. These guys were artists worki.ng in their trade, so it was good from that point of view. I had one instructor who was a little unethical, but he was a real pusher. He was an illu-otrator. He reccgnized some talent in me and in a few other kids and he worked with us outside of school hours. He would give us assignments. We didn't realize it at the time, but we were ghost illustrating for him and he was selling our stuff to publishers. He shoulda known that sooner or later he was gonna get caught because sooner or later you're gonna come across these book illustrations. He would pay usr like $10.00 per illustration. You know, h€ was probably gett ing $150, whatever . But it was good experience and it was daily discipline. After school T worked in a silk screen shop. I'd work there about 4 or 5 hours, get home about 9:30,10:00 and then I had to do my homework and my work for that guy. This guy was a nut, a real driver. He taught me a work ethic that I wouldn't have gotten anywhere else. So I knew that if you wanna make it, you're gonna have to put in lots of hours so T've always been able to do that. f've also learned -"elf-discipline as a f ree-lancer. It's nothing like going to a job and punching a clock on time. This takes a helt of a lot of--this piece, before f'm done, may take a thousand hours. See this? This is just called a marquette, this is a working model. This is going to be 15 feet high, if I get it sold. So when you walk up to it, this is what you wilt be looking up at. T've already submitted six or seven drawings, which they liked.
Would you consider yourself economically successful at what you do?
No. Tf T've sold fifty paintings, f've done well. Yeah, this is all nebulous , iE' s all pie in the sky' (laughs )
Ab-"olute1y. That's the tough thing about it and it's the same way with painting. I probabty have fifty paintings in my basement that J've never soId. You do 'em because you do 'em. Quite frankly, now f don't care. They represent phases that f've gone througb, a Iot of different stylizations and changes in my thinking over the years.
f'm fortunate enough to have a wife that's working and we're both investing in my future as a sculptor right now. She's really carrying the bal1. She's an offlce administrator for a good New York law firm which fortunately is good and well-paying. We have an apartment in New York, which she uses during the week. This is my second marriage and we've been together for about seventeen years. f don't remember exactly ried about ten of those seventeen years. but we've been marDid you ever hold a reguJar job? Yeah. Yeah, I was an art director in an advertising agency. fn fact, f've been an art director in several. J was creative director for a corporation in Philadelphia. f've done all that. what made you get out of it?
When I first got into the field r took a staff job because you need to get experience. You dld your painting on the side when you got time to do it. After a while, I said well, f'm gtonna try freelancing because that will give me the time I need to do my own work. So I been freelancing for probably twenty years. f'm also a commercial designer and I have the capability to do graphic design or an i1lu-etration. f can design a brochure or a 1ogo. I have people that know that and they call ne. f've done it my whole life because f've wanted to eat, you know. ft's put food on the table. I could make a lot of money in that and I'm very good at it. .I don't know why, but f am very good at ir.
How did you get your first commission?
I happened to be in 0rlando with a friend of mine who was there to buy a piece of sculpture. I happened to be in the right place at the rigbt time. It was just a casual remark, you know, 'Hey, Bill, do you have any ideas?' They wanted to do a fountain. So I said, 'What's your budget' And the woman said "I think we have about $6,000.00.' I said, 'There is nothing you can do for $6,000.00. Go to a cement yard where they have the little statues, the little boy pouring the water out, and buy one of those statues. I guess I was a little abrasive. But after I came home I decided well, let me make some sketches, I'Il send down some ideas and we'll go from there and see if they can find any more money for it.
One of my ideas was a man and a child. I had the kid reaching down into a pond feeding a frog on a lilypad, water around it, pumping over the edge, a very nice kind of thing. And tbey said, 'Great idea.' They also said'Well, you gotta have the thing in two monthsr'and I saidr'No wdyr it's gonna take a year.' Along the woy, they asked me for prices, so f went ahead and invested two months of my time to do that little nodel you see there and sent photographs of it. Then they came up with a number. we wrote up a contract and r scaled the piece upr did it fuI 1 si ze.
What f'm intending to do is have a show in Orlando of my small pieces during the dedication of the big piece. That will hopefully mean exposure, press, media coverage, that type of thing. Then r want to nove that show into a gallery in New york, Chicago, a major city.
r would have fifteen to twenty of my pieces. r would not actually sell anything from the show. rf somebody wanted one, r would do an edition for then. Everything that r'm doing now is ultimately put into an edition. I would do twelve in an edition. Each one is considered an original, signed and stamped with the number of the edition. In that way you can sorL of recoup your investment, your time and energy and money. You're not gonna get rich at it but you can make a living at it, I hope. f'll tell you sonethingr to generate another commission is not the easiest thing in the world. See, f 'm new to this. rt'-" reaJly tough. T'm totally unknown in the world of sculpture, you know, I just came in. I'n fifty-three years old and f'm starting a career, buL that's life. I did get another small commission though, from a hospital down in Lakewood. They want to do something like an academy award to give out as a humanitarian award -qo tbey asked ne to submit a design and I did. This is the piece over here (points to work). ft's in bronze. f came up with four or five ideas and that was the one the woman ended up picking. I also got involved in donating a piece. f need to donate a piece like I need a hole in the head (laughs). But I donated a piece for muscular dystrophy just to get the exposure out of it. I think they're gonna have an auction anrr r'll nrnhehl,y get some publiciLy out of 1t. It's the one on the corner Ipoints], that little famlly thing, f haven't finished it yet. f'll probably change i t . Azzolina IUew Jersey Assemblyman] has announced gonna do a competition for a Viet Nam memorial that's out in Holmdel Ifio]mdel park, in central New Jerseyl. f'm working on a design for that. that he's gonna be Right now
DO in you have any strong feelings about the viet Nam war Memorial Washingtcn?
Yeah, I do. To have something that is black and goes into the ground is a very, very negatlve way to honor the guys that lost their lives over there. You see, you look down into a pit. . .We're talking about the psychological impact of people who are walklng up to see their son's or daughter's names on the thing. When I initially saw it, I felt it was an extremely negative thing about a very negative situation. f still have the same feeling.
What about the statue?
That's the redeeming factor, the sculpture. That brings some humanness into it. But that was an afterthought. There was so much controversy about the wall that something had to be done. That was not part of the original monunent at all. Tt was not a war that we won, it was not a victorious let's wave the flag and be brave war, it was holy he]] for a lot of people. But I feel very strongly that whether we liked the war or not, those guys laid their lives down for their country so we can sit here and sculpt and do the things we do. I have my ideas about this one in New Jersey. My centerpiece 1s just a young guyr no soldiers, no guns, nothing to do with war, none of that stuff. I would never, ever want somebody to walk up and say 'Wow, r hope we have another war because look at this, it' s great.' This is not in honor of war, it's in honor of the guys who lost their lives in that situation. f see it as a tribute to the human spirit. We had a horrible situation there, but f would hope that what people see in this simple figure would relate the enduring quality of the human spirit. We have to honor the spirit of Lhe young guys who lost their lives there. It has to be a very embracive thing, embracing humankind in a very broad sense.
Wbo are your favorite artists?
I have a lot of favorite artists. For contemporaries' there are a lot of very well-known and -eucce-csful artists right now. f like so many things. I have a very broad range of likes and dislikes. f might like a certain Andrew Wyeth and I might like a certain Jackson Pollock and you couldn't be further apart in this world. f don't know who I would say. Everybody's favorite artist, the greatest artist who ever lived was Michaelangelo. That's if you're a painter or a sculptor. I like Michaelangelo but it's nothing I would want to emulate. He did what he did in his time and he did it better than anybody else had ever done it or will ever do it, but it's not something that I would want to emuJate. There's no need to. Michaelangelo did it. There's Rodin, and Donatelli. These are the people that we grow up with as artists so they are sort of ingrained in your thinking. They're the greatest.
llas Michaelangelo inspired?
I think that creating good art and certainly great arL, and creating can be landscaping, it doesn't have to be art per s€r requires a degree of inspiration. To do mundane or mediocre art,, all you have to be is a good copyist. And you or I or anybody in the world can be that. You can be trained to be a copyist. But to create something originaJ and have it be sold on its own is sort of a divine thingr to use a corny viord.
Can anybody be an artist? Can artistry be learned?
When people asked me what I dld, it was twenty years before I would say'f'm an artistr'because the word had such importance to me. To say thatr you really had to be creating art. Can anybody be an artist? Anybody can call themselves an artist and anybody can create folk art. 'Artistr' to m€r requires a step beyond just simply making pictures or paintings or pieces of sculpture. It bas to have a content that goe-q beyond the norm, the norm being what is easily reproducible or created. I don't mean that in a degrading way. It's simply that not everybody is born an artist. We can all create art. You can be trained to draw, to a certain degree. But would you ever be a great artist? Probably not, if you didn't have that spark. And that spark is what is so hard to describe. What do you call the ability to see abstractly? It's the artist taking a fragment of his experience and visually interpreting it. And again r these are words. Tt's just the interpretation of the word'abstract.' Abstract--everything is an abstraction. But the cJassical interpretation of abstract painting would have to be more like the piece I have behind me over there Ipoints to painting]. That's what you would call an abstract, sinply because there is no either symbolic or recognizable form that we can attach meaning to. 11 Now to m€r the symbolism in there. . .there's a very sexual connotation in that painting. So the passion and the color and tbe use of those forms in that painting are very sexual. It's my way of expressing those feeJings. Sensual. If you'd look for it, you'd find it .
Would a good art student be able to pick that up more quickly than I would?
I don't know. f honestly don't know. Everybody sees what they see in life in their own unigue way. You look at your car in a certain way and r look at it in a different way. Everybody sees color and form and shape and light and dark in a different way. We pretty much have a formula for dealing with the recognizable things on a pragmatic level. If we go in a store, we recognize a product because it has a Iabel on it. We recognize a TV or a chair. When it comes to art, you walk up to something that is an interpretation of the artist and then you interpret it in your own way.
But are there qeneraL rules?
No. There are no rules. There are theories. There are color theories, there are form theories. There is a way of leading the eye into a certain area that you want them to follow and from that area you carry them around the canvas by the use of form and shape and coJor. Some color recedes, some projects. You put all that in the hopper, stir it around, throw it out the window and paint. That's how I feel about it. you know, f had all that technical crap. I couldn't even repeat it. I just do what I want to. There's aII that kind of boloney, which has nothing to do with your lnterpretation of what you see. I got into a discussion with a friend the other day abcut--and it happens to me all the time and we're sort of doing it right now-- Iike you are saying, 'What is your work about?' f once wrote down what my work was about as f see my work. When f reread what r wrote down, r said well that's as evasive and abstract as my work. So it is entirely up to the viewer to give his own interpretation. You see, I feel that my work, or anybody's work, should demand a certain participation by the viewer and if f were to write a scenario and paste it under each of my pieces or sculpture and each one of iny paintings, f 'm requiring nothing of you. If I'm going to involve your then you gotta do your own interpretation. J don't create comfortable work. rt's not work that the average person would buy if they wanted to put it in the living room because it requires either participation or interpretation. Most people want something that'-c safe, pretty and decoraLive. I don't do decorative things. Now, some of my stuff is very safe and very simple to n€r but other people don't think so. It demand-" that you spend a few moments feeling what you are seeing. Nah, that's a copout. The best art in the world, the greatest art in the world, has needed no interpretation at a1l. That can be abstract, it can be realism, it can be non-objective--it can be whatever it is. 't? Go into a museum sometime and there'll be a teacber taking a class of kid-q around and doing the interpretations. All well and good, but it doesn't say what they're seeing, it doesn't do anything for the kids but explain how that single teacher is interpreting what the artist is doing. Did you ever think about teaching? As a matter of fact, I did some Leaching. About a year after I got out of art school, f was invited back as an instructor, which is ridiculous because I didn't have any credentials and I hadn't had a lot of experience. But, here we 90r ego again folks. Anyway, I was very good. I was probably,1f not the best in my class, certainly one of the best in ny class. I went back and I felt like a jerk teaching guys that were coming out of Korea who were four or five years older than ne. But I had a good experience in teaching, a couple of years. I was a good teacher. I knew what I wanted from a teacher so I tried to do the -edrrl€ things. I would not wanna do teacbing as a prof ession. f found it very demanding, very draining. Tf you're a conscientious teacher, it takes a lot of time. At the time, f didn't think I could do it. I had no speaking ski11s, had never stood up in front of people. But I found out that all you hadda do was open your mouth and sonething would come out.
What is your typical day like?
I'm an early riser. I usuaJly get up about 5:30, 6:00, and r'Jl either meditate, I try to do that twice a day, or seduce T4 myself into going to the beachr g€tting a cup of tea, whatever, f'm prone to be housebound. I feel like I have to get out of the house in the morning. I live here, f work here, f play here. I feel f need to get away. Nowhere special, maybe ride up to Seabright, have a cup of tea and a roll, sit on the beach for a while. Then I go to work, which neans going home to anybody else. Here to the studio. An average day might be an hour, it might be six hours, it might be tweJve hours. Sometimes I work until 11:00 at night, sometimes I'm in bed by 7:30.
Do you have any specific feelings about time?
f am very, very sensitive to the movement of time. I have a sense of urgency. f mean, there's so much inside that J've got to get out and f have hcw many years left to do it? I could drop dead tomorrord but. . .I know that I need time to accomplish what f have to do on this particular trip.
Do.you have any other interests?
f focus primarily on my art. Do f have any other interests? Sure, I go fishing, f ride my motorcycle, I 11ke nature, I like camping, I like all kinds of stuff. f'm sort of a movie buff and we've got a vcR which is nice. r used to jump out of airplanes in the service. I'd do that again if it weren't so time consuning and costly. I wish there were a local pub where some guys hung out that r knewr guys that were into art or something like that. I read about the Impressionists getting together and having a couple of beers and talking about their art. That would be neat. I sonetimes get stir crazy at night during the week. I t5 by It go in to the movie-e the theat re . Do you have any No. I work other day to me. around. People is a vacation. do every day. myself. Sometimes I'I1 be the only person 's like they run the mcvie just for me. problems taking weekends off? saturdays and Sundays. they're like every I do my thing, come in and work and putz sayr 'Geer you didn't go on a vacation.' My life It really is. r am so happy to be doing what I
What does your wife do on Saturdays and Sundays?
We usually rent a couple of movie,e over the weekend. Maybe once a year we'll actually go to the movies. She's very much involved in her own things. She has a couple of horses that she rides and she's learning to jump and all that stuff so she's very actively involved 1n that.
Is she into art also?
No. Other than appreciating living with a genius. (laughs) On a scale of ten, what would you rate your modesty? No, its funny, but when I talk about my work and f say that I'm good I feel absolutely no pride because I don't feel it's ne. When I sit in front of ny workr it's a gift that flows from rne. I'm just a vehicle for it, so I have no qualms in saying my stuff is good. ft's like standing back and saying 'That's neat, who did iE?' That's how I feel. I take no credit or responsibility 16 for it. I do work hard at it, I it is a gift that I have no part but I don 't knovr why i t '-. good . a lot of effort into it, but And I know when it's qood pur in.
Are you talking about God?
Yeah, whoever that big guy is up there, yeah.
Would you consider yourself deepJy religious?
No, f'm not religious at all r f'n very spiritual. The difference being that 'religious' has the connotation of attaching your beliefs to some doctrine or creed and f have none of those things, but r am a spiritual nan. r truly feel that r was able to open channels through meditation. r don't say that everybody should start meditating because it's just one of the path-e. You can look at every conventional religion, Buddhism, christlanity, whatever. rf you rearly look into the religions, which r have to some extent, you will find that what they alI talk about is the path, the true path to God. rt is not going to some stained glass altar and getting down on your knees and going around and looking at statues. rt's all within you and you carry it with you and all you have to do is contact it. when you decide to rook in instead of out. r'm realistic, r look out, r'm working and r need to eat but r al.-co know that's only one little aspect.
would you consider yourself happier than the average person?
we all have needsr sorrows, ioys and arl that stuff. r try to deal with that in a way that a]lows me the freedom to do what I do. I don't carry any more baggage than f have to. I don't wanna carry the history of, maybe, a bad marriage. I lost my son a few years ago in a very difficult way. But, again, I'm not morbid about it. I had thirty years of experience with very i11 parents during which I spent more time in hospitals than I wanted. That was tough and colored my outlook during my formative years. But it hasn't turned ne into a sour person because I do see the joy of it all, I really dor lt's a neat exper ience . Would you te11 me of your son's death? (Vo j.ce changes, becomes -cubdued, sof t ) Well , T'71 give you a little background. He had gotten out of the service and was kind of floating around looking for work and I had just bought this house so I put him to work painting it. I noticed him staring off intc space for ten or fifteen minutes and I knew--f mean I didn't follow.led around--he was a married man with a child, but I knew that something was wrong. f knew he was drinking but I didn't know how heavily and I knew he was probably smoking marijuana. But I didn't know he was putting needles in himself . I thouqht he had kicked hard druqs. At any rate, he worked around here for three or four weeks, painting the basement and the entire outside of the house. f was here most of the time and we had a great rapport. As strange as it sounds, we had great feelings for each other. Then I said 'Look Jed, you're not the kind of person that's gonna want to go to work for anybody. Why don't you start a little business and I8 paint houses?' He liked the idea, so I designed a card for him and had'em printed and I said you can use my van, that'll be your vehicle for getting around in. So he had llned up a house or two to do. But when you're involved with drug addicts, you have to know that you're being conned at least 7O to 808 of the time. If you've had any brush with themr you think you're hearing the truth, but you're not. So he doesn't show up for a few weeks and I don't know where he is and I'm getting really anxious. f was a little paranoid about what wa-e going on r f was getting ominous feeliDgSr more just feelings than anything else. f contacted Jed's lawyer and said see if you can get.led to bring that van back here. If he wants it, I'll sell it to him or whatever, but it'-e got to be in his name, f 'n not golng to carry insurance on him. I don't see it around and f can't flnd it. Then one of my friends spotted him down on the corner of Miller Street. This friend of mlne came up to the house and said he was with a couple of guys in the van. This was on a Saturday. I jumped in the car and found him downtown with a couple of the known local junkies. I threw him out of the van. He looked horrible. His face was broken out feeling. I sald to ,Jed's in jail, we were in bed, but . That night I had a horrible ominous my wife, 'We're gonna get a call, either .or something.' And tbe phone did ring when I didn't answer it. I felt like I'd answered enough calIs. I'm not gonna be dragged into it again. Over the years f'd been in and out of so many police stations. I stayed awake, until about 6:00 a.n., and then Jed's wife and her brother came to the door. Jed was dead. He had committed suicide. (cries ) Obviously I'm not over it. He meant it because he slashed hls wrists and jumped out of a window of the hotel where he was living. I think he was dead on arrival. ( long pause )
You know, f battled the drug scene for years Erying to keep my son out of the gutter and out of jail and obviously didn't succeed. I still have a great deal of pain attached to what I see going on ln the streets because it hasn't changed much. You can ride up and down Bay Avenue seeing things that I don't think you would see anyplace other than perhaps on the fringes of Harl.em. f don't know if we have anybody in town who really gives a damn because if we did they would clean up the streets. f see people dealing right out of their houses in this town. The kind of street mentality f see down there is quite unigue. But it just doesn't touch my Iife. f've been through all that crap. I don't care. I have detached from it because f no lonqer have the active need to be on top of it.
Earlier you used the phrase, "didn't succeed.
I don't really know what 'succeed' means. . .keeping a drug addict alive for the next fifty years as a junky? That wouldn't be a success. strangely enough, ,Jed's greatest success was his crossover. cros-c over? Cross over. That's a tern you go when you don't go here. use instead of death. Where could seeJed beinq addlcted to I I
heroin because of the frustration and pain that he couldn't control. Even as a young kid, Jed had to go to special schools. ttaybe he was born t o be a junky , I don 't know. When I got divorcedr w€ [Bi]1, his son Jed and his daughter Danal were all living in my studio and f was trying to paint and work. They were growing up under very tough circumstances. LuckilyT Nancy IBil]'s current wifel came inbo my life, and she saved all our llves. I saw this show on alcohol and drugs. Apparently there's a lot more genetics involved than they thought at one time. So am f a potential drug user or an alcoholic? I don't know, maybe I am. Now this is not guilt. f never used any kind of drugs. When I grew upr if you got a can of beer that was heavy duty stuff. So f was unprepared for it. It's something that we never think wlll happen to usr will never touch our lives. . . (long pause ) had a piece T called the Prophet. It had to do with the roots in the earth and the symbolism of the sun, the growth of the individual and above that the symbol of the ethereal or spiritual, which is the light of the afterlife.
So you feel there is an afterlife?
Oh, yeah. I know what's in store for me. f don't know specifically what's 1n store for everybody, including myself, but f know that there's an ongoingne-os of consciousness that f once had no idea existed. ft's strange enough without calling it religious, the soul, heaven and all that stuff--I don't wanna put those kind of labels on it. But there is a continuity.
- Bill Kilpatrick Art Work
- Interview with Bill Kilpatrick
- Ever wonder how to make a mold of a complex original? Sculptor Bill Kilpatrick’s exquisite creation entitled "Celebration" posed just such a molding challenge.
About Pickens Museum
Location and Hours of Operation
Artists at Pickens Museum
- J. Chester Armstrong
- Bryant Baker
- Jolene Bird
- Robin Bray
- Barbara Chase Riboud
- Sergey Chernomorets
- Charles Cordier
- Jo Davidson
- Andrew Scott DeJesse
- Donald De Lue
- Roger Disney
- Yatika Starr Fields
- Espi Frazier
- John Dale Free
- John Free, Jr.
- Mitch Gyson
- Jeff Ham
- Robert Hardee
- Hugh Harrell Jr.
- K. Henderson
- Bri Hermanson
- Malvina Hoffman
- Allan Houser
- Patrick Dean Hubbell
- Malvin Gray Johnson
- William Kilpatrick
- Tom Lea
- Becky Mannschreck
- Raoul Middleman
- Woodrow Nash
- Ed Natiya
- Clyde Otipoby
- Gene Pearson
- Daniel Pickens
- Erika Pochybova
- Charles Pratt
- Bill Rabbit
- Traci Rabbit
- Tanya Rafael
- Richard Recchia
- Faith Ringgold
- Josué Sánchez
- Fritz Scholder
- Stephen Schwark
- Isaac Shari
- Scott Storm
- C J Wells
Articles about Pickens Museum
- Pickens Museum/NOC Mural Dedication Set for June 16th
- Yatika Starr Fields Completes Mural for Pickens Museum May 12, 2021
- Pickens Museum and NOC Announce Mural by Osage Artist Yatika Starr Fields May 5, 2021
- Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp (Counting Coup) by John Free March 29, 2021
- Pickens Museum Displays Route 66 Murals by Robert Hardee March 29, 2021
- Pickens Museum Opens Exhibit of Sculpture by Donald De Lue at NOC March 24, 2021
- Pickens Museum partners with NOC February 23, 2021
- Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman February 21, 2020
- Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Faith Ringgold February 21, 2020
- Exhibition: "Winter in New York" January 22, 2020
- The Turquoise Guitar by Jolene Bird November 26, 2018
- World's Largest Naja August 29, 2018
- A 1949 Hudson Limousine August 29, 2018
- Meet the Museum Design Team May 21, 2018
- A Ponca City Mystery April 5, 2018
- Tonya Rafael Visits Ponca City February 2018
2015 and before
- Sculptor Bryant Baker's Lost Masterpiece November 3, 2015
- Pioneer Woman Models Come Home February 26, 2010
- Pioneer Woman Models Should Return to Ponca City July 13, 2007