|Following is The New York Times obituary of the artist:|
"Willard Bond, Vivid Artist of Yachting, Dies at 85: Willard Bond’s paintings managed to capture the feeling of life on the water."
By DENNIS HEVESI
Published: June 10, 2012
In First Around, one of Willard Bond’s best-known paintings, two towering yachts are caught in a roiling sea. The one to the fore is rounding a mark, sharply heeled in the wind, its crew crammed by the upper rail to keep it from capsizing. It has not yet raised its spinnaker, the balloonlike sail toward the bow. Perilously close by, the other boat has just turned the marker, its billowing spinnaker a virtual rainbow of iridescent pink, blue, maroon and white.
All this is captured in Mr. Bond’s bold, swirling strokes that verge on the abstract.
“Bond creates paintings, not around what boats look like, but what it feels like to be aboard or nearby, watching them move fast — big, speeding boats, often only inches apart,” J. Russell Jinishian wrote in his 2003 book, Bound for Blue Water, a comprehensive study of marine art.
“Crews scramble, sails drop and raise in a flurry of activity,” Mr. Jinishian wrote. “The tension is high, adrenaline pumps, orders are yelled, spray flies, seas and heads pound, your whole world spins as you are unconscious of everything else around you. If you want to know what it is like to be in the heat of a yacht race, just look at a painting by Willard Bond.”
Mr. Bond, whose images line the walls of thousands of homes — particularly those of avid sailors — died of congestive heart failure on May 19 in Yountville, Calif., his daughter, Gretchen Bond de Limur, said. He was 85. Until moving to California several months ago to be near his daughter, Mr. Bond had divided his time between his apartment in Brooklyn Heights and the 30-foot-high geodesic dome he built decades ago as a second studio near Barryville, N.Y., in the Catskills.
Even there, he could conjure up images of sailing vessels and the sea.
In Knarr Class, Mr. Bond depicted the copious mast of a wooden racing boat. Against a glowering sky, with perhaps a storm on the horizon, the boat is tilted toward its port side. Subtle blues, greens and grays blend in the water and the clouds, with white dots hinting of structures on the distant coast.
Over five decades as a marine artist, Mr. Bond created hundreds of watercolor and oil paintings, “everything from cruising sailboats to America’s Cup yachts,” said Jeffrey Schaub, owner of the Annapolis Marine Art Gallery in Maryland and a longtime representative of Mr. Bond. He said Bond originals sell for up to $30,000, his limited-edition lithographs for up to $1,000, and his posters for up to $45.
“Willard Bond was an original,” said Jeanne C. Potter, director of the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. “Willard would often hear from the sailors who raced that that is the way it is out there, and that he was the only artist that got it.”
He found his passion as a teenager sailing on Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, where his grandparents owned a houseboat. Willard Gordon Bond was born in Colfax, Wash., on June 7, 1926, to Arthur and Hallie Gilleland Bond. The family later moved to Lewiston, Idaho.
When not sailing on Lake Coeur d’Alene, the young man worked for several summers as a fire spotter for the United States Forest Service. After serving in the Navy in the Pacific from 1944 to 1946, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago, then moved to New York to study at the Pratt Institute, from which he graduated in 1949.
In a loft on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Mr. Bond began creating large-scale abstract oil paintings and ceramic murals while supporting himself as a set designer, lighting technician and occasional actor in Off Broadway theaters. In the early 1970s he went to the island of Jamaica, where, inspired by Buckminster Fuller, he built geodesic-dome homes in the jungle, as well as two large domes for a school, commissioned by the Peace Corps.
It was after returning to New York in 1976 and becoming a pier master at the South Street Seaport — he welcomed the tall ships of Operation Sail to New York Harbor for the bicentennial celebration — that Mr. Bond turned to marine art. His works began selling at galleries. At the same time, his daughter said, he sailed his own small boat off Long Island before graduating to a Chesapeake Bay skipjack, which had long been used for oyster dredging.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Bond is survived his longtime partner, Lois Friedel Bond (they were once married, then divorced and then began living together again in Brooklyn), and two grandchildren. His first two marriages also ended in divorce.
Not all Mr. Bond’s paintings reflect a turbulent sea. There is an almost palpable peace to his “Running Home,” an oil painting that depicts four yachts far in the distance, their sails — black and white, red and white, blue and white, and pure red — full as they head to port at the end of a day of racing. “Running” means that the wind is behind them.