A documentary by Ron Merk
It’s strange how someone comes to mind, long after they’re gone. I hadn’t thought about my late, great friend, George Vasilatos, for a while. Then I realized that the 20th anniversary of his premature passing is upon me, and I decided it was time to complete a film that I began just after his death. There was no service or saying goodbye. He had only a few close friends, and elderly parents whom I had never met. So, I decided to visit each of them with my (then HI-8) video camera and record their thoughts about George.
What was very surprising is that each one of George’s friends knew him in a different way, perhaps as a different person. To say that George was “complicated” would be an understatement. But he was one of the most supremely talented artists I’ve ever known in my lifetime. I graduated from a special high school in Newark, New Jersey, where students could major in art or music. Despite the fact that I could not draw a straight line with a ruler, I choose art. At least I had a good eye for composition, thanks to years of taking a still or movie camera with me wherever I went.
So, focusing on George ex-post-facto was a real challenge, but one in which I would be undaunted. Now that twenty years has passed, I want to make sure that George finally gets an exhibition in his beloved San Francisco, and will do my best to gather all his art from friends and family, and my home. I’m planning to invite everyone, and re-interview them. But I’m not expecting any revelations that will clarify who George was. The more I look at his paintings, the more I realize that the work he created, the images that came from his brain, emotions and his amazing hands, that this was George. George was truly a great artist, one who was not recognized in his lifetime, which is a great tragedy. But his artwork lives, and reminds us that he passed our way, and we are all richer for it.
Running Time: 26 minutes