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Gordon still rents out studio space in the Park Trades Center in Kalamazoo – the same space he has rented since 1990.

yet much is the same.

Gordon does not, and will not, use a computer; preferring conversation in person, on the phone or in a letter.

level of music for me. So I feel a sense of music, even in silence. There are breaks, even in music. If you didn’t have some silent parts, you’d go stark raving mad. So I’ve learned it’s with the silence that I’ve grown as an artist. I’ve had silence in my studio for nine years now, and I feel it’s been an enabler of finer work for myself.”

“We work on the finest things,” shared Gordon. “We work on Brahms and Beethoven and Mozart — works that are performed by concert pianists. For me, there’s a poem by Robert Browning that says ‘A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what is heaven for?’ And so I certainly do that in my music and my art.

CROSSING THE BRIDGE TO A FURTHER AND MORE HOPEFUL SHORE

“I never allow myself to stay static; my work continually evolves. I push myself to go further than where I am. A lot of my work — particularly after first losing Richard — had him, portraiture-wise, in the piece in many ways. He still pops into my pieces.

But slowly, over many years, with the help of loving and caring friends, especially Daniel Koshelnyk, their piano teacher, Richard’s professional colleague Laura Getty, and Pastor Jim Dyke who spoke at Richard’s funeral, Gordon did return to his studio, and to life. “It is impossible to speak of any work I have done since this time without expressing the importance of Richard’s presence in this journey of painting. He was so much a part of my painting life before his death, and I draw much strength from his memory spiritually.” Even though Gordon works in his studio in silence, he continues to immerse himself in music at home. He has two grand pianos and studies with his piano teacher once a week.

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Everything has changed,

“It pleases me to see my work evolve. I wouldn’t be happy putting out work just because somebody thought it would sell. But I push myself — you can take works that are two or three years apart and see quite a giant step in how it’s changed in imagery. I jump back and forth with some figuration in my work, always. “But my present work is leaning more and more abstract. That doesn’t mean you can’t see a form — perhaps a figure, a face or something — in some of the work, that’s always there. But my current trend is, I think, more and more

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Gordon uses his 1960 Smith Corona typewriter for all his letters and correspondence.

abstract, which, to me, really adheres to the true definition of Abstract Expressionism, which is allowing yourself the freedom to let whatever happens on the canvas happen, without any sense of representation or limitation. “That’s how I drive myself. I hope that I always have a reservoir of creativity within me that allows it. So far I have. I sometimes think, ‘well maybe this will run out,’ or ‘maybe this will get stale,’ but I haven’t reached that point. And that’s kind of a gift for an octogenarian!” Gordon has kept a journal for 53 years; an autobiographical testament to what he does. “I don’t expect anyone to read it — no one can read my handwriting,” laughed Gordon. “But it’s a discipline area for me. I’ll look back and notice that I always had worries, even when I was very young. I still have worries. I believe things happen in life to cause you worry. So I share them with my diary, and it is part of the narrative of my life, which is a good accompaniment to what I’m doing in art and music.” It can be said that Gordon’s life has


Benchmark | Winter 2016