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Bill Komodore, Dallas Painter of Texarcadia, 1932-2012

Bill Komodore with Sun Painting, photo: Teresa Rafidi

Dallas painter and SMU professor Bill Komodore has died. He was born in Athens, Greece in 1932, and  moved to the United States and received his formal education at Tulane University, where his professors included George Rickey, Mark Rothko, and David Smith. He earned his B.A. in 1955, and M.F.A. in 1957. Mr. Komodore was known for his figurative works, playing with both the mythical idea of Arcadia as a place of creative perception and with the experience of being a native of the actual Arcadia, Greece, which he describes as “the bucolic land of sheperds, beautiful nymphs, and satyrs.” He showed with Gerald Peters in Dallas, and at Decorazon Gallery. His work is represented in numerous public and private collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Walker Art Center; Dallas Museum of Art; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

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34 Responses

  1. Michael Corris

    Bill was a most valued and loved member of the faculty of the division of art and he will be missed by all of us who had the privilege to know him. His measure as an artist can be seen in his career, which rejected easy successes for the hard road of intensely felt goals, sometimes alone in his aesthetic journey, sometimes lighting the way forward for others. I know I speak for the faculty when I say this is a difficult and wrenching farewell.

  2. Oh gosh, I think of the things Bill taught me often while I am painting. In a world full of ‘meh’ professors, Bill was a fountain of down-to-earth advice, encouragement and plain-spoken criticism. And just a wonderful person. It was indeed a privilege to study with him. RIP.

  3. Lisa Boyd

    I have known Bill for 19 years. Starting while I was a student at SMU then as my time as a staff member here. His stories delighted all that were around. He made us all laugh of his great tales of all of his adventures. I am so sadden with our loss and Bill is already greatly missed. Awesome artist, awesome husband to Shannon. He was cool before people knew what cool was. We miss you Bill. And I know you are up there painting your best paintings yet. I send my thoughts and prayers to all his family and friends.

  4. Nicholas Komodore

    With brush strokes of pure figwarmed fates
    in the sun resting over there, I see.
    I see wisdom, I see a tender father
    with the White Crow the Great,
    the rhapsodist of color.
    The painter angel whispers silence to my ear
    with diaphanous glances of the souls
    and rages of thoughts of live paintings of
    the ancient Greek Olive Oil the Great,
    the holiest of colors.
    I see the Vassilias of Eros.
    I stare with pride and stubbornness
    the fingers, the gaze,
    the countenance of Ethos the Great,
    the color of all colors.
    It’s the sea that sees the most but is it fair to say
    is it truth, is it virtue or the eagles of Delphi?
    I glance the light, the darkness,
    the riddle of Echidna’s and Orthrus’ daugher.
    I see all.
    I see my Uncle the Great.

    1. Nana Tokatli

      So well described,scetched in your poem. Integrity is what crowns man and art is if it touches even one. Bill luckily for all did touch many. be well.

  5. Paul Harris

    While I knew Bill in Dallas, it was in New York that we got to know each other. He and Maranne and their sons lived in a five flight walk-up in the East Village. He would invite me to dinner and afterwards walk me back to Cooper Union Square and Eight Street. It was safe for me to walk from there to my apartment off Sixth Avenue. As I was leaving, he gave me Circe, one of his optical prints. He had an amazing command of a line.

  6. Teresa Gomez-Martorell

    Integrity, this is how i can describe him. First, hIs integrity as a person. And his integrity as an artist. It is much easier to follow the glory, but over all, he wanted to be an artist, a real and humble artist. This is the best lesson to learn from him and what made him really great.

  7. For 20 years I’ve never really understood what bill was painting or what he was really saying but the kindness and integrity and love that he poured out still hits me. Hell. Dang. Love people when theyre on earth! So lucky to visit with him recently(last year?) at some show in the cliff. What a dude!

  8. Emily

    A favorite professor of mine as well… Such a tremendous loss.

    Is there any information or plans for a memorial service.

  9. Dan Rizzie

    Although Bill was never officially a professor of mine I certainly felt like he was. I got my MFA @ SMU in the early 70’s and met Bill through Roger Winter and David McManaway . I remember many great conversations with Bill and allot of laughs to go along with those mornings at Kuby’s and other haunts. A brilliant guy with a wonderful sense of humor and never without a story to tell. One hell of a guy.

  10. Sam Gummelt

    For 13 years 3 artists (Bill Komodore, David McManaway and myself) and 3 Doctors (Randlow Smith, John Casey and Herb Leiman) met for coffee at Little Gus’s where Bill would share his vast knowledge of any subject! He once told me that the first puppet was a fish. He also told me that the Germans lost WWII because they lost their bakers. These were fondly known as “Komodoreisms”. Great artist and great friend who will be missed.

  11. Cody Stromberg

    Bill was a real man, who lived a real life, but spent all his time entertaining myths, myths that became reality. Reality became myths. Stories became truth and truth became fables. What a mess! Only a great painter could make these things become art. He worked hard, tirelessly, until the last years. Driven and obsessed with fighting those giant canvasses, like his old dog Arnie, a small creature but without fear, beating big dogs through strategy. So Bill scrapped and fought with those larger than life canvasses in that dark studio. But when I would visit, he was always kind, generous, and a great friend. I doubt I will ever have another friend as good as Bill. And yet, I don’t want to go back to the way I was, there is so much yet to see and do. A fellow can learn a lot from an ancient greek. It sure was fun, and wow, what an education. Showed me where the land mines were set, the trip wires strung, led me through the pile of horse manure right to the diamond. Not many people can do that for you, much less care to do that for you. I hope he has found the best landscapes yet, in a land where the trees sing and the grass is alive, and there are colors that never existed here. Keep painting Bill!

  12. Incredibly sad news. Bill was one of the most gifted artists we have had the honor of working with. Always inspiring to be around and had so much to share. Plus he made one really good Greek coffee… Our thoughts are with his family and especially Shannon. May his memory be eternal.

  13. Pingback : In Loving Memory of Bill Komodore 1932-2012 | OOO-LaLA!

  14. Joy Richardson

    My heart is saddened. A great artist indeed! But I will fondly remember him most for the wonderful stories he shared with me of his beloved Greece and his family. I would visit in his studio on occassion and he would tell me the “stories” behind his paintings – my favorite is still of the upside down pot! We talked about food and cooking, and he shared recipes with me. Each one was a winner! I agree with Lisa’s earlier comment, “Bill was cool before we knew what cool was!” I will miss him. Thoughts and prayers are offered up in gratitude for his life and influence on so many, and in heartfelt sympathy for his wife and family.

  15. John Casey

    As Sam Gummelt has commented, we “deadbeats” gathered every morning at Little Gus for many years. My favorite Kommodorism was his teaching me about flemming….look it up. Bill was always gracious and as all of you have commented, a font of arcane and often profound knowledge. I have missed him and David McManaway very much. Those were halcyon times for us medics, privileged to be able to enrich our science with those three artists. Rest peacefully my friend.

  16. Voula Komodore

    Our beloved brother Bill was an exceptional, gentle, humane, enlightened, talented, humorous man and a great storyteller, full of compassion and love for his fellow men!

    Στέρφες απόμειναν οι αγκαλιές Βασίλη!
    Rest in Peace!

    Our deepest condolences to his wife and two sons Costa and Alex!

    His brother Takis Komodore and sister-in-law Voula Komodore

  17. Susan

    Everytime I go to the Fort Worth Museums, I think of Bill. He was at Brookhaven Community College in the 80s and spoke to us about specific pieces of art and exhibits in FW that moved him. I knew then that we were lucky to have an instructor of his caliber . . . it was a connection that stays with me in the studio, he lives in my art head.

  18. I had the privilege of studying with Bill for several semesters. He was the greatest artistic teacher I’ve ever had. He taught me so much. His perception was always so spot on. He would say just one sentence, and in that brief sentence would resolve something I had been struggling with for weeks. It might be…I think green oxide might be better don’t you? or I think it would behoove you to use less information. He himself was a wealth of information. His was a life well lived and I’m very grateful that I had Bill Kommodore as a teacher…unforgettable.

  19. Jamie Pink Weisbrod

    I was so sad to hear of Bill’s passing. I studied with Bill for 5 years, mostly at Brookhaven, and we have kept in touch in the years since. It was incredible to listen to one of his lectures. I think of him as an incomparable painter, very layered and nuanced in his work. Bill was also a lovely person, always there for advice if I needed it. He will be sorely missed by many people. My heart goes out to Shannon and his family.

  20. So long, Bill. Like others here, I mainly knew Bill through artists Roger Winter and David McManaway. I was long gone by the time he came to teach at SMU, but I know he was a fantastic teacher and artist. He gave a guest talk while I was there in the seventies, and I remember his talk well with its many references to “psychological time” which he pronounced as “sic-o-logical” time. My friend Ed and I used to walk around guoting that meme for months thereafter.

  21. Lynette Miller

    I remember Bill Komodore talking with passion about most anything. He was youthful in that way. I loved talking with him about mythology, of course Greek mythology in particular. I got to tag along with him for some Little Gus’ breakfasts where in depth tangential subjects were discussed at length first thing in the morning! I will miss you.

  22. Bill Komodore was my teacher, friend, fiance, then a friend again. He taught me in college in the 1970’s, and for all my life what he taught me in our years together has been so important and central to how I see art, poetry, cooking, and so many things.

    I was so sad to see that he had died. He was wonderful to me, and I send my condolences to his children and wife.

  23. Gayle & Michael Collins

    Such an amazing artist, teacher, friend and mentor to his students.
    There will be a Celebration of his life in Houston at
    The Rothko Chapel on Sunday, September 30th, 2PM.
    His beloved wife, Shannon Komodore wishes to include all who’s lives he touched.
    Thank you for passing on the word of this.
    If you have questions, contact me by email.
    Gayle Collins

  24. Ron Napier

    Bill was a delightful friend for four decades. We were initially fishing friends. Then hunting friends. Then cooking friends. Then art friends. Then mythology friends. And eventually traditional pottery friends. I will miss him greatly.

  25. Michele Leith

    Dear Bill

    Thank you for all that you taught me about art and life. Remember, “If they copy you, it means that you’re doing something right…”

    If you need anything, just call.

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