He’s the kind of guy that could sell you a used car on a handshake. He could be the guy who would be buying a round of drinks at a sports bar or the guy winning big at the tables on a Las Vegas weekend, a crowd cheering him on. Everything costs “50 bucks” in William’s world; he will sometimes announce his asking price accompanied by a rap on the table when completing a painting of which he is particularly pleased. He has been spotted all over town: sometimes scrupulously watching employees at Applebee’s with a raised eyebrow, clipboard in hand, dutifully making notes and occasionally checking his watch. Another time he was seen curiously directing parking at the State Capitol. He is a guy’s guy; if workers are operating heavy machinery on campus, or something is being hammered or sawed he is there. He is also a caring fellow, he warns you to be careful if you are driving home in the rain, and will give your car a few pats and a thumbs up to send you on your way. He is Mr. Short Center North, he keeps things humming, knows who is here who is not, who needs help, who is sick. He comes to program with mysterious bags – we have seen the contents at times containing a police radio, walkie-talkies, cell phones, an ipad, and even a pink frosted layer cake.
William is of Arabic ancestry and lives with his family in Gold River, enjoying an active life. He understands both Arabic and English, although he usually speaks in two-to three word sentences. He frequents the local shopping center and has been known to sweep floors, helping around several small businesses, and generally making sure things are running smoothly.
William started the Short Center North in 1986, and took to painting immediately, becoming one of SCN’s most prolific painters. William’s paintings are bold and direct, like the man himself. To watch him in action is to watch a master at work; there is purpose in every stroke. Both his painting and ceramic work have a flowing feeling, and colors and marks appear to be random, but when watching him work you see that he considers every mark. Recognizable representations of houses, flowers, trees, birds and fish inhabit the artwork; sometimes a figure is present. Snippets of Arabic writing, mathematical equations, currency, and architectural elements combine and collide in fascinating combinations.
Perspective is absent for the most part, and there is no upside down or right side up. Some paintings look like an aerial view or a map of an exotic land. His color sense is unbridled and based on whatever is handy. Layers upon layers can be built up quickly -he is not the type to wait for the paint to dry – and he must sometimes be stopped from overworking a painting. He recently started looking through books for inspiration, particularly using pictures of landscapes.
William has quite an impressive resume that matches his talent. He has shown extensively at local galleries, and also at The State Capitol and The Crocker Art Museum. He has shown nationally at prestigious venues such as The Outsider Art fair in New York City, MIA Gallery in Seattle, and The American Visionary Museum in Baltimore MD. His work is also included in The National Archives in Washington DC. Practically every art teacher at the Center has had William in a class at one time or another.
Over the years we’ve watched his hairline recede and waistline expand; we have all grown older together. William’s love of painting and of making images has never faltered, and probably never will.