Artist, humorist, DJ and man-about-town Bill Amundson has been part of the Denver landscape for more than thirty years, and I've known him for most of that time. Far, far away in a another life, I managed the Ogden Theatre, which was then a prehistoric Landmark repertory cinema, and Bill was my employee. In those days, that's what starving artists did to stay alive. He did a lot of 3-D work with a wood-burner back then, and I'm proud to still own a set of Nancy and Sluggo pins from that period. I think I paid him five bucks for them. Or perhaps it was five bucks each. A deal either way... Bill went on to make a name for himself on the Front Range over the years, delighting art collectors with his singularly dry Midwestern humor and skill as a draftsman, and there must be many a wall in many a home sporting images from one of his many comic series. Mine, a wedding gift of four tract homes painstakingly drawn in colored pencil, hangs, well, in my bathroom. Where I still look at it all the time.
The sad news is that Bill and his lovely wife, Anita, are flying the coop and moving to his native state, Wisconsin. The shock of this news is still sinking in, I think. But first, Plus Gallery, which represents his work now, will throw a big farewell soiree tonight from 5 to 8 p.m., with a show and sale of Bill's work accompanying the bon voyage bash. "It's singular, signature work that's so well developed," says Ivar Zeile of Plus Gallery of Bill's oeuvre. "He's unmistakeably a rare talent." But Zeile also appreciates Bill from a very personal standpoint: "I remember when I was in the fifth or sixth grade, I used to make these scribbles on my school desk, and they were so obsessive, the way Bill's work is, but I never did anything with it. That's my most significant memory of how I first connected with art, and it makes me wonder about what he was doing at that age. Bill, of course, kept going with it and turned into an amazing talent."
Personally, Zeile calls it "a huge loss of talent, but it's also that we'll just miss his personality." But he's happy to add that Bill's work will still have a presence in Colorado and at Plus Gallery. "He's leaving, but his artwork will not," Zeile says. "He's achieved a lot here in the last two years, and the real question is, 'Where do you go from there, except build your base?' Right now, I'm trying to find a way to break him out on a more national level."
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For a taste of what makes Bill Amundson so unique, Zeile shared some video with us of Bill speaking at Tuesday's DAM Contemporaries annual AFKEY awards, of which Bill was a recipient.
So, Bill, from us to you: Huzzah, farewell and good luck! On to new adventures! And, yes: On, Wisconsin!