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Every Wednesday at noon, Gordon attends church at St. Luke’s to honor his life with Richard. He reads a Bible passage before the priest reads the Holy Gospel and leads the singing of a hymn which he accompanies on the piano.

taken him down many paths; some intended, some destined. But it is his art that lights the road along the way. “My work often speaks of a journey — a passageway leading to a space beyond and always to a more promising destination,” philosophized Gordon. “It is like crossing the bridge to a further and more hopeful shore.” “And I feel that painting is my story. It is the ultimate expression for me. I can say more with color and space and gesture and imagery than I could ever do using just the English language. That to me is my motivation. I feel I still have a story to tell, and that’s why I continue to paint.”

A GIFT OF AFFECTION AND REMEMBRANCE “It’s not an easy question; to whom would I entrust my life’s work, with all that goes along with that,” Gordon responded when asked why he made the decision to bequeath his substantial art collection to WMU-Cooley in his estate plan. “There are easily 400-500 pieces of major work — some of them as large as 9-feet by 6 feet and some even larger — most of them framed.” “I reviewed it with my estate attorney,” said Gordon, and I decided that I wanted to give Cooley right of first refusal.”

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Gordon uses the same chair in his studio, purchased in Chicago 50 years ago, held together lovingly by duct tape.

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Gordon still wears his 1978 Cooley class ring today.

“I have a sense of confidence and trust in Cooley,” answered Gordon. “I know in my heart that Cooley will perpetuate my life’s work with the utmost care and integrity, with the highest possible standard. And that feels good while I’m still non-posthumous.” GORDON BOARDMAN

“Of course I had wonderful experiences with many people from Cooley over the decades,” continued Gordon. “Lots of names come to mind, but when Don LeDuc visited my studio, it must have been in the early 2000s, I was impressed that he took the time to come to Kalamazoo. I told him during his visit that if he saw a painting he would like, I would give it to the law school. So he took me at my word, and he narrowed his choice down. The piece he chose had been in an exhibit in New York City with the Bibro gallery, and it had considerable recognition.” “I had the warm sense that the school was empathetic to my artwork,” said Gordon. “I could have donated to others, but I had such a long-standing relationship with Cooley, and I was much more comfortable with my work staying in Michigan. It made sense to me.”

That original donation to the law school, a large-scale piece Gordon called Trifurcatedly Separate But Equal, still hangs on the same wall of the Lansing campus lobby where the first Cooley Art Unveiling ceremony was held on Feb. 27, 2003. It was, in fact, Gordon’s art and donation that was the spark and inspiration behind Don LeDuc’s idea to formalize the WMU-Cooley Art at Cooley Fund. The plaque describes the law school’s interpretation of the Triptych, where it found three levels of symbolism in the painting; the Constitutional doctrine of separate-but-equal principle, America’s three separate and independent branches of government, and the three Michigan campuses. Find out more about the Art at WMU-Cooley collection by visiting the law school’s official blog page at cooleylawschoolblog.com.

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Benchmark | Winter 2016